Is the epidemic over now? Unfortunately not, new people are still being infected with the coronavirus. Five fables about contagiousness in a row.
Myth 1: Without symptoms, you are not contagious
This fable was accidentally spread by a scientist from the WHO itself. The World Health Organization had said that governments should be especially on the lookout for people with coronavirus symptoms, such as coughing, fever, and loss of taste/sense. That makes sense, because the more complaints, the more contagious you are.
But the WHO also said that people without symptoms never spread the virus. That is strange because there are indeed (particularly young) people with very mild complaints, who are ill without noticing and spread the virus. The statement was withdrawn a day later. “Dissemination without symptoms is a complex matter, of which we do not yet know exactly what it is,” said the new WHO statement.
Myth 2: A mouth cap does not help
“Putting on mouth caps makes no sense,” RIVM director of infectious disease control Jaap van Dissel told politicians when that question was raised at the end of March. The face mask was later introduced in public transport. Does it work now or not? A new study in the medical journal The Lancet analyzed 172 studies of protective measures against the spread of SARS viruses.
Conclusion: The risk of spreading is 85 percent lower with a mouth mask. The surgical mouth masks work extra well, but they are reserved in the Netherlands for healthcare providers. Is this new for RIVM? Probably not, the scientists at the RIVM were also aware of these studies. The mouth mask works, but not if you use it wrong, it can spread even more viruses. In addition: we already keep 1,5 meters away. Those were reasons for the RIVM not to recommend the mouth mask.
Myth 3: The 1.5-meter distance has not been proven effective
Keeping your distance does help. The same Lancet study as that of the mouth masks shows that. They did not take the 1.5 meters away, but the one-meter distance as a measure. Contagiousness was 82 percent lower with this distance. At a greater distance, the protection is even higher, so 1.5 meters does help.
Myth 4: The virus is only spread by superspreaders
The 61-year-old South Korean woman who, after attending church, was the source of the contamination of half of the cases in her country is an oft-cited example of a superspreader. One person who infects not two to four but dozens of people (or even more). Scientists are still in the dark about how the super-diffuser is created.
He may be spreading more virus particles. If he also comes to a busy wedding or church choir rehearsal, things go wrong. Epidemiologists estimate that superspreaders are indeed responsible for a large part of the infections: 10 percent of infected people are responsible for 80 to 90 percent of new infections. But even then there are still ‘normal’ infectors left. So super-diffusers are not the only source and they are not recognizable.
Myth 5: The outbreak is over, you are no longer infected meer
The figures from the RIVM show that dozens of new infections are still found every day. The virus is still spreading and measures remain necessary. Without measures, each infected patient would make an average of two to four new people sick. Now that is less than one, namely 0.85.