Coronavirus, false myths and good habits

The novel coronavirus has changed our lives very quickly. Unfortunately, since it is a virus that until now had never been observed in humans, at the beginning of the emergency little was known about its behavior and what to do to protect ourselves and the information was often not very clear or complete. For this reason it has been easy that false myths have spread. Let's try to understand better, also in light of the latest scientific researches.

Coronavirus, is it true that if you go out then you have to wash your hair and clothes?

The novel coronavirus survives on surfaces outside the body. To date, there is no study that indicates how long coronavirus can live on hair but we know that it can be found up to a day on clothes (Chin et al, The Lancet, 2020). However, according to WHO and government guidelines, if the safety distance of at least one meter, better 2 meters or 6 feet, from people is respected it is unlikely to have a significant amount of virus on hair and clothes. When you go back from the supermarket, the advice is to take off your shoes before entering the house and not to put your jacket and clothes on the bed, on the table or on the sofa but to hang them correctly and immediately. Then, you need to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for a minute and, if you have, use a disinfectant solution with water and at least 60% alcohol.

Coronavirus, cutting your beard helps avoid infection

This is not true. This belief was born from a hasty reading of an image published by the CDC (Centers for disease Control and Prevention, the public health control body in the United States) that shows how some types of beard and mustache could make the action of the masks not so efficient. This does not mean, however, that cutting your beard can protect you from infection, this only happens if you respect hygiene and safety standards, such as social distancing, not touching your face with dirty hands, washing your hands with soap and water and using disinfectant solutions with at least 60% alcohol.

Coronavirus, raw vegetables and meat safe?

As pointed out by EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, also on the basis of the behavior of other types of coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS, the infection does not occur through the consumption of food but through infected droplets that reach the mucous membranes of mouth, nose and eyes. Generally, hygienic standards are guaranteed in supermarkets and grocery shops and the employees have always to wear gloves and masks. However, at home, other tips for those who handle vegetables are to wash the hands with soap and water before and after touching the food, and/or to use a disinfectant solution and to have the attention to use a handkerchief to cover the mouth and nose in case of sneezing or coughing. The handkerchief should be immediately thrown away into the garbage can, possibly closed in another bag and the hands should be washed. Fruits and vegetables should be washed well before eating.
As for meat, even in this case in the shops and supermarkets the use of masks and gloves prevents contamination from people who sneeze or cough nearby without protection. However, the advice is to always cook the meat sufficiently until the liquid that comes out is clear and the meat has taken a whitish color, as regards the chicken, a gray pink color for the pork and gray brown for the beef. This is also a general rule that protects against other pathogens. After touching raw meat, wash always your hands.
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