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Debunking Myths And Processing New Information About Coronavirus: Everything You Need To Know

New information are surfacing about the novel Coronavirus and we break down everything you need to believe and not believe

The novel coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak has completely thrown the world into panic and alarm. On January 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the coronavirus epidemic as a public health emergency of international concern. And as of February 2, there have been 17,387 cases with 362 deaths across 27 countries, including the Philippines.


What does these information mean and what should we do in response to the outbreak? Here are some new and critical facts surrounding the nCoV outbreak—and some of the misinformation that you should take note of.



The coronavirus is asymptomatic and may now be spread through the digestive system.


Currently, the known symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, difficulty in breathing, chest tightness, and cough. It can be transmitted through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Scientists from the New England Journal of Medicine have estimated that each infected person can infect somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people in average if they’re not contained or quarantined.


But it has been confirmed by CNN through Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that nCoV is capable of asymptomatic transmission. The incubation period for the virus is 2-14 days. This means that carriers can spread the virus during the incubation period even before the symptoms show up. The confirmation came after German researchers found that there were five instances where the virus was transmitted by people without symptoms to their families and co-workers.


The New England Journal of Medicine warns that the coronavirus being asymptomatic should not cause panic. They reiterate, “Even if there have been cases of asymptomatic transmission of this infection, those will be typically rare cases, and with just about every other respiratory tract infection known to humankind, those are not the people who are driving an epidemic.”


In fact, respiratory viruses like these can only travel only about six feet from the infected person, and it’s currently unclear if a person can get the virus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. Pathogens like measles, chickenpox, and tuberculosis are much more potent in transmission since they can travel a hundred feet through the air.


In a new report by China Daily, Chinese experts have now released a warning that the virus can be transmitted through the digestive system, after they noticed some patients infected with the virus were only exhibiting diarrhea, instead of the more common fever. This means the virus may be capable of fecal-oral transmission, aside from droplet and contact transmissions.


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You might not need to wear a face mask yet so don’t hoard it.


In the last weeks, there have been shortages of face masks all over the country. There have also been instances of mask overpricing, which Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said should warrant a raid by the Philippine National Police (PNP). 


It’s reasonable that people are being cautious over a global crisis. But in reality, both the DOH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reiterate that there is no need to get into a frenzy over face mask shortage. In fact, not everyone needs to wear it all the time.


Who needs to wear a face mask and when do you need it? Currently, only health workers (everyone working in hospitals and health facilities) and people who are actually sick are recommended to be wearing the masks all the time. Public hoarding of the masks are making supply too low for those who actually need it and are causing a surge in the prices.


Those who are not sick but feel that they need to wear masks may limit mask usage to when they are in public places. They should also take note that disposable masks should be changed every four hours. Reusable cloth masks may be used if you can’t buy a surgical mask, but these masks should be thoroughly washed each day.

The first coronavirus-related death outside China was recorded in the Philippines.


A 44-year-old man has died Sunday, February, after developing sever pneumonia, New York Times reported. The man was a resident of Wuhan, and is the first known coronavirus-related death outside China.


According to health officials, he arrived in the Philippines on January 21 with a 38-year-old woman from Hong Kong, who has also tested positive for the virus. They traveled to Cebu and Dumaguete during their first days in the country. According to the Department of Health (DOH) secretary, Francisco Duque III, there are 23 other people who are isolated in hospitals around the Philippines under observation with possible coronavirus symptoms.


Since it can be transmitted by a carrier even before s/he developed the symptoms, people who came into contact with the two Wuhan nationals are in danger of contracting the virus.


The two Wuhan residents came to the Philippines through two Cebu Pacific flights. In a report by Rappler, Cebu Pacific has issued a statement that they are working closely with the DOH, the Bureau of Quarantine, and the National Epidemiology Center "to contact all passengers aboard the same flights taken by the patients who tested positive" for 2019-nCoV.


All people who boarded the following January 21 Cebu Pacific flights are urged to contact the airlines and seek medical attention: 5J 241 (Hong Kong-Cebu), and DG 6519 (Cebu-Dumaguete).


A travel ban is now imposed.


Following public outcry and immense pressure on the government to release a travel ban, President Rodrigo Duterte has finally expanded the Philippine government's ban on travelers to cover all foreigners coming from China, Hong Kong, and Macau within the last 14 days, reports ABS-CBN News. All Filipino citizens and residents who have arrived from these three countries are required to go under a 14-day quarantine period to monitor if they develop the symptoms.


If you have been to China, Hong Kong, or Macau for the last 14 days with or without symptoms, it’s suggested that you should go on a 14-day self-quarantine to monitor your condition and possibly stop the virus from spreading.


If you still wish to travel to China, Hong Kong, Macau, or other countries with confirmed cases of the coronavirus, read more about the travel advisory from leading local airlines and good practices to follow here.


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It’s not dangerous to eat Chinese food or buy Made in China products.


“Is it safe to eat Chinese food?” This question was posted by an audience member during a public information session held in New York City by the Center for Disaster Medicine at New York Medical College (NYMC). According to health officials, the virus is a respiratory virus and is transferred through direct contact with the host. Eating Chinese or using China-made products were not listed by WHO or the CDC as risks for catching the new coronavirus.

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Practice good hygiene and other safety precautions.


Instead of panicking and spreading misinformation, WHO advices the public to practice good hygiene and food safety to reduce their possible exposure to the virus. Check out the full list of guidelines released by WHO below.

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