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  • Stephen Morse: "Wearing a mask

  • will protect me from the virus."

  • The problem is that people who wear these masks

  • usually don't wear them properly.

  • Syra Madad: "The coronavirus came from bat soup."

  • [Morse sighs]

  • That is absolutely not correct.

  • Morse: "The coronavirus was deliberately

  • created or released."

  • Madad: Giving humans a little bit too much credit here.

  • Hi, I'm Dr. Syra Madad.

  • I am the senior director of

  • New York City Health + Hospitals'

  • System-wide Special Pathogens Program.

  • Morse: And I'm Dr. Stephen Morse,

  • professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School

  • of Public Health, Columbia University.

  • We're here to debunk myths about the coronavirus.

  • Madad: Let's get started.

  • "Getting the coronavirus is a death sentence."

  • Well, there's a lot we still don't know

  • about the coronavirus disease,

  • but based on the data that is coming out,

  • it seems to be a mild type of viral infection.

  • There's a 2% fatality rate

  • and about 18% to 20% that may be in,

  • kind of in the critical condition range.

  • Morse: And those 2% who die are the sickest.

  • They're in the hospital already.

  • So even those in the hospital have probably

  • a 98% chance of surviving.

  • So it's not a death sentence. I agree.

  • Madad: It is not a death sentence.

  • Morse: "Only Chinese people have the coronavirus."

  • Well, it started in China, but the reality is

  • that it's everyone's virus.

  • And if it gets far enough, just like the flu,

  • it could be anywhere.

  • Madad: Infectious disease do not respect

  • boundaries or borders,

  • and, for that matter, everyone is susceptible.

  • "The coronavirus is the most dangerous virus."

  • That is not true.

  • There are a number of different viruses

  • out there in the world.

  • So, let's just compare it to another type of virus.

  • So, you have the Ebola virus disease,

  • which has a much higher fatality rate associated with it.

  • Morse: I think the official count is now

  • 6,000 recoveries.

  • But, you know, one of the funny things

  • is that we don't usually report recoveries

  • when someone is discharged from the hospital.

  • So all those recoveries, probably there are

  • many more on the way as well.

  • "Wearing a mask will protect me from the virus."

  • A lot of people like to think so.

  • And, of course, a mask gives you a sense of security.

  • But the problem is that people who wear these masks

  • usually don't wear them properly.

  • They've never really been trained.

  • They may not know what kind of mask to wear.

  • Madad: So, there's two types of masks:

  • One, the simple or surgical mask

  • that you see the general population wearing.

  • And then there's another type of mask

  • that healthcare workers wear.

  • It's called the N95 mask, and it's a respirator,

  • and it is able to filter particles that are airborne

  • with 95% efficacy.

  • And the one that healthcare workers wear,

  • they have to go through what we call fit testing.

  • And so to make sure they have a perfect seal.

  • Morse: People who may think they wanna wear an N95

  • find it very uncomfortable after a while.

  • So even if it's well fit,

  • it's then especially hard to breathe through.

  • Madad: And the mask is really for those that are infected

  • with the actual coronavirus disease,

  • not so much for a healthy individual.

  • So things that actually proven to be effective

  • is washing your hands often,

  • you know, 20 seconds,

  • as well as obviously, if you're sick, staying home.

  • So, a number of other public health measures

  • that actually are proven to be extremely effective.

  • "The coronavirus came from bat soup."

  • [Morse sighs]

  • That is absolutely not correct.

  • So, what we know about the current coronavirus disease

  • is that it started in Wuhan province in China

  • in a wet market or seafood market, if you will,

  • where there's a number of different animals there.

  • So there's a couple of different speculations out there,

  • but not from somebody obviously consuming bat soup.

  • But what we do know, obviously, is that once

  • you actually get the coronavirus disease,

  • the form of transmission

  • is obviously through droplet spread.

  • So coming in contact with somebody that is sick

  • with the coronavirus disease, close contact with them,

  • or, you know, contact with

  • their droplets right shortly after.

  • Morse: "You can get sick from a package sent from China."

  • I think it's really highly unlikely,

  • when you consider the time it takes

  • for a package to get from China.

  • Madad: And right now what we do know is that obviously

  • these droplets that can contain the virion,

  • or the virus itself,

  • it may not be able to survive

  • outside the human body for very long.

  • So even if it may, for example, come on a package or a box,

  • depending on how long it's been there,

  • it may not actually be able to survive outside.

  • But we still don't know.

  • "Closing borders will stop the spread of the virus."

  • These types of respiratory viruses,

  • they don't respect borders as we know.

  • And it's not the fault of a government

  • that this type of outbreak is starting or spreading.

  • It's just the nature of the virus itself.

  • Travel bans historically have proven

  • not to be very effective.

  • In fact, you know, it seems that it was the opposite.

  • They caused more fear, make more chaos.

  • People were reluctant to actually come forward

  • with actually reporting that they had the illness.

  • Morse: A lot of it is perception, and with travel bans,

  • a lot of it, politicians particularly I hate to say,

  • like to do that because it gives

  • the appearance of doing something,

  • but it is often counterproductive.

  • Madad: The federal government does state nonessential travel

  • should be restricted, obviously, to mainland China.

  • That's the epicenter, and that's where there's

  • a lot of community transmission.

  • But outside of China, where you may see

  • there's over two dozen countries

  • that actually are reporting to have coronavirus disease,

  • if there is no community transmission,

  • there is, obviously, no risk to the general public.

  • But continue to look

  • at Centers for Disease Control's website.

  • They have a travel health advisory section,

  • and that you can actually go to and put the name

  • of the country, and it'll tell you the precautions.

  • And as well as go to your healthcare provider,

  • they can provide some travel guidance to you

  • if you need to travel to various areas

  • that may be reporting outbreaks of coronavirus disease.

  • Morse: "The virus only affects older people."

  • Well, that's kind of half true.

  • It affects everybody, even children.

  • The older people, however, are the ones

  • who are more likely to have severe disease

  • or more serious disease.

  • So all of us older people have to be careful,

  • but it affects everybody.

  • And even the older people, most of us

  • will probably not even be that sick.

  • Madad: "The coronavirus is the same as SARS."

  • So, the coronavirus is in the same family as SARS.

  • It's a coronavirus disease.

  • There are two various, and now three coronaviruses,

  • known to cause more severe infections in humans.

  • SARS is one of them.

  • MERS, which is Middle East respiratory syndrome,

  • is another one.

  • And now coronavirus disease that just started obviously.

  • SARS was more severe in terms of

  • the fatality rate that was reported.

  • So it's about 10% versus, with the coronavirus,

  • what we're seeing right now is about a 2%,

  • but still it's way too early to tell.