Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (aka COVID-19), a lot of myths have been circulating on the social media and among the populace. These myths have led some people into believing that COVID-19 doesn’t exist in spite of the reported cases around them, others have panicked and resorted to unhygienic and harmful practices in an effort to prevent or protect themselves from the pandemic.
Some myths about COVID-19 include: the virus will die off when temperature rises; COVID-19 only affects white people; it is a modified form of malaria; the COVID-19 is just a mutated form of the common cold and spraying chlorine or alcohol on the skin kills the virus in the body.
Others are that only older adults and young people are at risk; that the disease cannot survive in Africa due to hot temperature; face mask protects against coronavirus; antibiotics kill coronavirus; and that garlic, ginger, onions and other spicy roots and vegetables protect against coronaviruses.
There are other myths that say home remedies could cure and protect against COVID-19; that you can be infected by coronavirus from eating Chinese food in the US; and that 5G helped COVID-19 spread.
Mr Wale is one of those who believes that home remedies protect against COVID-19 and not modern medicine. He said COVID-19 is nothing but an advanced form of malaria.
He said neem tree popularly called Dogonyaro, with the botanical name Azadirachta Indica, was the cure for the virus, adding that when he heard about the spread of the virus in the country, he boiled it with lemon and inhaled the steam to protect himself from getting infected with the virus.
Medical experts say there is no known cure for COVID-19 and that no herb has been proven to treat the disease.
Former president of the Nigerian Academy of Sciences and a Professor of Virology, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, said contrary to the views that the virus affected only white people, it affects people of all races, colour and creed, including the poor and the rich.
“The figures as at 16th April 2020 from the African Centre for Disease Control put the number of COVID-19 cases in Africa at 18,792, with 967 deaths. Most of these were Africans.
“Our own NCDC said as at 20th April 2020, Nigeria had recorded 627 cases of COVID-19, with 21 deaths. I think apart from the index case, the rest are Nigerians! So, let nobody deceive you that COVID-19 affects only the whites.”
He said to some extent, some of the myths are causing the rising rate recorded in Nigeria because some people do not believe there is a disease called COVID-19 caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.
Unfortunately a few of the myth carriers are supposed to be highly educated persons. Experts say such people propagating falsehood should be charged to court for endangering people’s life.
Prof. Tomori said, however, that the rise in the number of cases in the country was mainly due to community transmission. “Ideally, after we closed our airports and prevented people from affected countries coming into Nigeria, we should have had only a few additional cases but some of those coming in with the disease have infected those who came in contact with them; their co-workers and family members.
“Unless we comply with the guidelines and instructions given by the government to stay indoors, maintain a safe social/physical distance, regularly wash our hands with soap and water etc., we will continue to see a rise in the number of cases.
“Again, unless we ramp up our testing, to include all contacts of positive cases (whether showing symptoms or not), the end of COVID-19 is not in sight as we will continue to have more cases day by day.
“During week of 4-11 April, we recorded 95 cases, the week after, from 11-17 April, we reported 188 cases, nearly double the number for the preceding week. If we continue our attitude of non-compliance with government guidelines, it will be a miracle if we do not hit the 1000 case mark by the time May 2020 arrives.”
Prof Tomori said Nigerians could simply protect themselves by complying with the guidelines for preventing contracting the disease. “Wash your hands with soap and water, use sanitiser, maintain safe distance – at least 6 feet between you and the next person – and cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and also use face mask,” he advised.