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Coronavirus: debunking myths about international shipping, cleaning products and masks

Posted at 7:30 PM, Feb 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-04 01:30:47-05

Contaminated mail, excessive mouthwash gargling and bleach. These are just some of the myths surrounding the spread and prevention of the deadly coronavirus.

On Sunday, health officials confirmed two more cases of coronavirus in San Benito County bringing the total number of U.S. cases to 11, but there's some false information circulating about the virus.

People are wondering if it's safe to receive packages from China, if household cleaning products kill the virus and if N-95 masks are effective.

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department is working with the community to spread the right information about coronavirus.

"I've heard from a number of people they are concerned about being in the same room who maybe looks like they may be Chinese or receiving packages from china or elsewhere in Asia...those should not be concerns for the general public at all," said Dr. Penny Borenstein, a health officer with the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department.

Health experts said people getting mail from china are not at risk of contracting coronavirus because in the past coronaviruses did not survive long on objects.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also explained that disinfectants like bleach can kill most viruses including the coronavirus when it's present on surfaces like counter tops.

However, putting cleaning products on your skin or under your nose as a way to prevent yourself from getting sick is not effective and may be harmful to your body.

The WHO declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern after some cases showed human-to-human transmission outside of China.

"The only way we will defeat this outbreak is for all countries to work together in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general. "We are all in this together, and we can only stop it together."

N-95 masks are also flying off the shelves of local hardware stores; people are wearing them to prevent the spread of germs, but Dr. Borenstein said they are not needed locally.

"The same precautions that we issue for respiratory illness like the flu is wash your hands often, stay away from people who appear to be sick, stay home yourself if you are sick," said Dr. Borenstein.

The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine according to health experts. The WHO is supporting the efforts of researchers to develop one.

Check out what other myths the World Health Organization is debunking by clicking here.