Even as the WHO declared coronavirus a pandemic, there seems to be no end to the myths surrounding the disease. When the news first broke, talk was that the disease started from a wet market in Wuhan, China, but as the weeks passed, bat meat was added to the list of suspects. Several more urban legends have spread, among which is one about how eating meat spreads coronavirus.
We talked to people from different occupations to get their take on these myths.
Cook the meat well
Rumours began with the notion that meat consumption caused the outbreak. Then the claims narrowed down to chicken. However, soon another rumour emerged that bat meat caused the virus. Then, there were rumours that Chinese food could cause the disease because, well, China was after all the source of the disease, right?
We checked with Aswini Sagar, a nutritionist, on the misinformation doing the rounds. While she agrees that the disease may have started in the wet market in Wuhan, she points out that some people who eat meat in raw or semi-cooked form may be more susceptible. “But we know that is not the case in our country, so it is important not to panic,” adds Aswini Sagar.
“You may worry about a virus or another organism entering your body if you are a raw-meat eater. But as long as you cook your meat well, relish in any form of it. The only thing I would caution here to ensure your hands are well sanitised before handling the meat as well as consuming it and make sure the person cooking the food is healthy too.”
Dr D Nageshwar Reddy, chairman of the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology says, "There are unfortunately many myths about diets despite there being no evidence about any particular diet influencing corona infections. True scientific data for this is arguable. That said, malnutrition could cause any infection, including that by Corvid-19."
Dr J. Anish Anand, internal medicine consultant at Apollo Hospitals says, "The coronovirus infection (Covid19) is a new viral infection that is being studied. Knowledge is limited as it’s new and experience of it is very limited. As per present-day knowledge, it spreads only through respiratory droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes. There is no evidence that it spreads through meat products."
To eat meat or not
Arun Kumar, a web developer, believes these unfounded rumours only add to the confusion. “I source information only from reliable sources. But, yes, I have heard of myths about meat consumption. True or false they may be, but I always cook my food and boil the meats and vegetables I eat.”
P R Nanda Kumari, however, is one of those affected by the rumours. Her parents decided to stop eating meat for a while. She says, “I heard that meat is one of the medium that sets off the disease. So I gave up meat. But given the lack of experts commenting on the issue, I am still confused if this is a myth or a fact.”
Vijay Kumar Marri, owner of Groove 9, a café, says his preferences haven’t really shifted. “People are becoming increasingly aware about taking precautions. People are also aware that the virus cannot survive in the climatic conditions of India,” he says....