As Covid-19 continues to make its way through Chile, how best to navigate it is a recurring theme. Along with growing speculation comes misinformation. Chile Today brings you the top five myths surrounding the novel coronavirus.
Myth 1: Personal Contact Is the Only Way to Transmit the Virus
Although personal contact with an infected individual is indeed a leading way in which Covid-19 is transmitted, it is not the only way. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the novel coronavirus is principally spread through respiratory droplets. This does not just mean obvious symptomatic signs of illness, like coughing or sneezing; it also includes unseen droplets from talking or even breathing. This is why the organization suggests stranding at least six feet (two meters) away from the nearest person.
Even keeping your distance cannot fully protect you, because the virus is also transmitted through touching surfaces that infected people have touched and left traces of these droplets. In fact, the virus can live on surfaces for up to three days and in the air potentially for three hours. This is why it is essential to limit exposure to public places, such as supermarkets, and to wash hands and purchased products after returning home. To limit these types of exposures, countries such as Chile have implemented legal quarantines. For example, for its quarantine zones, Chile has an online permit system that limits the type, number, and length of trips that qualify.
Myth 2: Face Masks Will Protect You From Infection
Chile has recently made face masks obligatory on public transportation and on the streets in certain zones of Santiago. Even though face masks are an essential part of preventing the spread of Covid-19, they are, by and large, not useful in preventing the wearer from contracting the virus; rather, they help prevent the wearer from contaminating others by limiting the spread of respiratory droplets from the wearer’s face.
Myth 3: Only The Elderly and Inferm Are at Risk
While those who are older and have a weaker immune system are indeed at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 and developing life-threatening complications, it turns out that young and seemingly healthy individuals are also at risk. In fact, in the United States, the majority of those who tested positive for the virus were under age 65, while in Italy, a quarter of the people hospitalized were younger than 50. The death rate for these younger age groups is lower, but it is impossible to predict how the virus will act with each individual’s immune system. In Chile, a 21-year-old girl from the Maule region died from the coronavirus in early April.
Myth 4: Domestic Animals Cannot Contract Covid-19
While the spread of Covid-19 to animals is rare, it has happened. Though the CDC admits that more research is necessary, animals have tested positive for the virus. For this reason, the CDC suggests keeping family pets away from unfamiliar animals. The virus is new to scientists and there is still a level of mystery as to how it spreads. Animals have been at the center of the Covid-conversation from the beginning, but animals likely aren’t to blame for the massive spread. Thus, even though it is likely that the first cases came through exposure to bats, scientists believe that the virus came to most countries via human contact rather than animal contact.
Myth 5: You Can’t Catch Covid-19 Twice
While some viruses, once gotten, can cause the infected to become immune to the same strand, this doesn’t seem to be the case with Covid-19. In an interview with USAToday, Li QinGyuan, director of pneumonia prevention and treatment at China Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, said that the protective antibody, produced when someone recovers from a virus, does not last long in the case of Covid-19. For this reason, there “is a likelihood of relapse.” Though these relapses seem to be more rare than new cases at this point, Li QinGyuan encourages everyone to continue to wash their hands and take necessary precautions against the virus.
Bethany works as a professional English teacher from the United States. She obtained her Bachelors of Arts in English Education and Masters of Liberal Arts in English from Henderson State University. As well as a life-long Literature and Language lover, Bethany also dabbles in stand-up comedy on the weekends. She currently lives in Santiago, Chile where, in addition to teaching, she organizes bilingual events with The Chistolas, a comedy and event-management group.