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‘Coronavirus isn’t going away in warmer months’ — US infectious disease expert busts myths

Dr Faheem Younus explains why coronavirus will last for months and what humans can learn from trees. 

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New Delhi: Dr Faheem Younus, the chief quality officer and chief of infectious diseases at the University of Maryland UCH has taken to Twitter to quell fake news about the coronavirus pandemic that is circulating on social media.

He also tried to bust myths related to COVID-19 through his tweets.

The first thread, put out Saturday (21 March), details how previous pandemics such as the Spanish Flu in 1918, Asian Flu in 1957, SARS in 2002 and H1N1 Flu in 2009 had lasted for one to four years. It states how the upcoming summer is not strong enough deterrent to stop the spread of COVID-19.

With coronavirus cases rising in the US, Younus pointed out how the country is lacking in doctors, nurses, hospital beds, ventilators, face masks, test kits, and medicines.

He also explained how winter hits different parts of the world differently. In the US, for example, New York and Washington have proven to be the hotspots for the virus. New Jersey and Illinois are next, predicted Younus.

Giving examples of the complete shutdown in San Diego and other such extreme measures taken by authorities, the physician also drew a parallel between trees and human lives.

The doctor explained why the virus will last for months and what humans can learn from trees. While lockdowns do have an economic impact, he said, losing money is like losing leaves. It can be brought back. But losing lives is like losing trees, something irreversible.

Mincing no words, Younus also maintained that despite its best efforts, the US will see cases touch and perhaps cross 50,000. But patience is the key, he said.

With prediction availability of home tests and private labs conducting COVID-19 tests by April/May, people will soon return to normal life armed with masks, Younus added.

Also read: Modi govt is using two laws to tackle coronavirus spread. But one of them needs changes

Countries will hit a plateau before fall in cases is seen

Dr Younus stated that avoiding petrol pumps, ATMs, shopping carts and the likes will do no good as the virus’ ability of surface survival is one thing, and that surface infecting a person another.

Despite some confirmed information available, many continue to believe that eating certain kinds of food may be dangerous. He clarified that coronavirus was not a food-borne disease.

Some other myths doing the rounds include — sitting in a sauna for 20 minutes can kill more than 90 per cent of the virus, using garlic/lemon with hot water/onion in the room will prevent COVID-19 and that one should always shower the moment one gets home or the virus can spread to the family.

Younus debunks these one by one.

Many people believe that if one loses her or his sense of smell that person is likely to have been infected with coronavirus. But losing sense of smell is a symptom common to other infections and not exclusive to COVID-19, explained the doctor.

On people preemptively taking hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin tablets in order to prevent COVID-19, Dr Younus said: “These (experimental) drugs for coronavirus should only be used in selected COVID-19 patients. They can sometimes cause fatal heart rhythm problems plus other side effects.”

Paranoia continues to spread as many governments across the world have ordered partial or full lockdowns across countries. On this, he said: “The state of emergency is more of a legal than a medical standard. It allows governments to access more resources.”

Also read: Fines, not fear, will work for Indian ‘daredevils’ using coronavirus off-time to socialise


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