Health experts debunk myths on coronavirus, urge public not to panic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 7) — There has been a spread of fake news and misinformation on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the past weeks that has stirred panic among Filipinos.

Health experts, on the other hand, have been quick to debunk these myths and continued to urge the public to stay calm in the face of widespread fear of the new virus.

RELATED: THE FACTS: Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

How is the novel coronavirus transmitted?

One of the most common questions posed is how the virus is being passed on.

Dr. Anna Ong Lim, President of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines, emphasized Friday that the novel coronavirus is transmitted by droplet which requires close contact with a maximum of 6 feet.

The virus is not transmitted through air, according to her.

"We should define airborne vs droplet. Droplet means the particles that travel are large enough so they are suspended in the air up to a certain distance and a certain period of time," Lim told CNN Philippines on Just the Facts.

"Airborne means the particles are able to travel over longer distances as is the cases of some respiratory viruses." She added.

Is it necessary to wear masks?

Genomic scientist and PHIX Genomics CEO Jeffrey Seitz said that masks are more useful for sick people.

"The mask would be applicable to those showing symptoms, than those that aren't." Seitz said.

Lim said it is important to reinforce proper hygiene practices like washing of hands, and covering of mouth while sneezing or coughing. It is also advised to stay at home as much as possible, Seitz added.

Does the novel coronavirus thrive more in cold places?

There has been information going around the internet saying that the novel coronairus thrives more in cold places.

With the lack of information on the said virus, Seitz and Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Rosette Vergeire said they have no definitive answer.

"The flu season thrives in cold months. We can assume that's the case in coronavirus, but that's not a definitive," said Seitz.

Vergeire said DOH "can't really say," and cannot forecast.

Should Filipinos be worried?

"There's a big difference between concern and worry. Anxiety is not gonna do [anyone any] good. Mental health contributes to physical health. Let's be concerned but not worried," said Seitz.

According to Vergeire, the DOH is "still on top" of the situation, especially since the country still has no case of local transmission.

"That is good enough for us right now," added Vergeire.

The World Health Organization ranks the Philippines at Level 4 - second to the highest when it comes to its preparedness and response capacities concerning the novel coronavirus.