Covid-19 Myth Buster MYTH BUSTED – COVID-19 is another strain of influenza and it is like having the flu It is understandable to be confused as COVID-19 and the flu share certain characteristics. For example, both can cause a dry cough and a fever. However, COVID-19 is not the influenza, but rather an illness caused by a virus: the coronavirus. The virus is highly contagious, even if the carrier themselves have no symptoms. Science has come across the family of coronaviruses before. However, COVID-19 is caused by a new strain of that family, new to humanity, and therefore none of us are immune to it. At this point in time there are no medications or vaccines to protect us against it, but researchers are hopeful. MYTH BUSTED – There is a test you can do yourself to test for coronavirus There has been an abundance of fake advice shared on social media, often claiming to come from legitimate sources. You may have seen posts urging you to “hold your breath for 10 seconds” to test for coronavirus. Please me mindful of the sources you use to get information. Although researchers are working tirelessly to develop further testing methods, currently there are only two ways to test for coronavirus including either a swab of the throat/nose or a blood-test that need to be analyzed in a laboratory by specialists. MYTH BUSTED – Healthy young people do not develop symptoms even if they are infected Because the early information focused on older adults, there was the assumption that healthy children and young people are unlikely to develop severe symptoms, even if contacting coronavirus. This is not quite true. Indeed, it appears that children are more likely to develop mild symptoms. However, this is not a guarantee and children/young people with no pre-existing health conditions can also develop severe and dangerous symptoms if infected. It is therefore imperative that all age groups adhere to the government’s advice for physical distancing. Common misconceptions or half-truths – You can get coronavirus from your pets There has been limited evidence that with very close contact with humans, pets can get infected with COVID-19. However, there is no evidence to show that the reverse is true. Pets do not transmit COVID-19 to humans even if infected themselves. There is no evidence to date as this is a new virus, but the assumption could be made that pets’ fur may be able to carry the virus in a similar way to other surfaces. The advice is therefore to keep good hygiene practices at all times for both you and your pet. Common misconceptions or half-truths – Mail and parcels from hotspot countries are not safe Studies carried out in controlled laboratory environments have shown that coronavirus can survive up to several days on surfaces of different materials. Postage and parcels received could possibly have been contaminated during handling. It is therefore important to open upon receipt, discard the packaging or disinfect and wash your hands. The good news is that with time the amount of virus on surfaces decreases rapidly, so if you are receiving mail that has been packaged and in transit for longer, the contents are even less likely to be contaminated. MYTH BUSTED – I am not eligible for mental health support in relation to COVID-19 As you will be aware, a lot of the NHS staff are currently being deployed to fight COVID-19. Mental health teams may be working with fewer staff, having to maximize capacity and amend protocols. Your care team will be in contact with you about any changes that affect your care. Specific guidance for clinicians relating to COVID-19 is currently being developed. In addition to that, a lot of Trusts are offering access to a hotline to discuss concerns around COVID-19. You may also want to access Bipolar UK’s eCommunity to share your concerns in a safe space.