Sex, mosquitoes and rasam – Covid-19 facts and myths

Malaysia has to date recorded 99 cases of Covid-19 while globally, the figure has surpassed 100,000.

The outbreak started in China but has since spread to almost every continent, disrupting businesses and daily lives.

Health authorities are also battling the spread of misinformation regarding the virus. Some say the misinformation is spreading faster than the virus, and they are not wrong.

After our readers posed some questions in recent days, Twentytwo13 compiled information from WHO and health authorities to address concerns about Covid-19.

Can Covid-19 be transmitted through mosquitoes?

To date there is no information or evidence to suggest that. The respiratory virus spreads primarily through droplets when a person coughs or sneezes or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.

If someone coughs or sneezes, should I run away?

Do say “bless you” but maintain at least a three-foot (about one metre) distance between yourself and the person. Avoid shaking hands, kissing or touching someone.

Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the used tissue immediately.

How long can the virus stay on a public transportation vehicle seat, touchscreen or bidet in a public toilet?

Studies have shown the virus can persist on inanimate surfaces like metal, glass or plastic for up to nine days.

The virus, however, can be neutralised within a minute with the use of an effective disinfectant.

If I have touched or sat on a contaminated surface, will I die?

Wash your hands before touching your face and the chances of you enjoying your EPF savings are high. Viral droplets don’t pass through skin.

Does Covid-19 pass through skin?

No, it does not.

Can I have sex?

WHO says it is too soon to tell if Covid-19 can be transmitted through sex. Avoid kissing, sneezing or coughing in your partner’s face while in bed, in the car, in the kitchen, or whenever you feel aroused.

PsST poster

I’m rich and I can afford any vaccine, so I’m safe, right?

To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat Covid-19. This is a new virus and it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts.

WHO says vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to safeguard your health. Also, antibiotics don’t work against viruses.

Should I eat more garlic naan?

Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties.

However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic protects you from the coronavirus.

Should I take long hot baths to kill or prevent getting the virus?

Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching Covid-19. Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower.

The best way to protect yourself is to frequently clean your hands.

Can I spray alcohol or chlorine on my body or skin to kill the virus?

Applying alcohol or chlorine to the body can be harmful, especially if it enters the eyes or mouth. Chemicals to disinfect inanimate surfaces should not be used on skin.

Pouring beer or whiskey on your body won’t help either. Also, don’t use this as an excuse to increase your alcohol intake.

I feel sick. Do you think I have Covid-19?

Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention.


Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.

My office has meetings daily that last for hours. What should I do?

Organisers of meetings and events need to think about the potential risk from Covid-19 because there is a risk that people at the meeting or event might be unwittingly bringing the virus in. Others might be unknowingly exposed to Covid-19.

While Covid-19 is a mild disease for most people, it can make some very ill. According to WHO, around one in every five people who catch Covid-19 need hospital treatment.

I love to shop online and buy stuff from China. Is it safe?

There is a very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures.

You can, however, disinfect your products as an added precaution (depending on the type of product) upon receiving them and wash your hands properly after that.

I’m getting married next weekend. What should I do?

Weddings, birthday parties and even funerals in several countries like Italy, Singapore and Japan have been disrupted due to the outbreak. It’s best not to hold events that bring large numbers of people together.

While there is no official announcement from health authorities in Malaysia regarding this matter, precautionary steps should be taken, like providing hand santisers to guests and discouraging those who are ill from attending (but they are most welcome to give angpow).

It’s also a good excuse not to invite your father’s uncle’s brother-in-law’s father’s second cousin sister’s son whom you’ve never met.

My WhatsApp groups are filled with (mis)information about Covid-19, some saying I should only eat banana leaf rice and rasam while others say hairdryers can kill Covid-19 . What should I do?

Get updates and statements from WHO‘s website or your local health authorities. Only forward or share information from these experts. If you are unsure, contact your local health authorities for clarification.

Should I start stocking up on toilet paper?

Panic-buying has besieged nations like Australia, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong. The BBC quoted Associate Professor Nitika Garg from the University of New South Wales as saying that the FOMO syndrome – or Fear Of Missing Out – is in full force in Australia.

The same organisation quoted consumer expert, Dr Rohan Miller from the University of Sydney, as saying: “Toilet paper doesn’t really matter – it’s just so far down the survival list compared to other things like food or water – but it’s just something people cling to as a minimum standard.”

Toilet paper does not cure Covid-19. Also, it’s cleaner to use water instead of toilet paper after your number two. Try it, it’s not difficult.

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