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NHS Highland consultant on a Covid-19 myth-busting crusade; Highland health consultant takes Trump to task


By Scott Maclennan

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The Covid-19 pandemic has spurred one NHS Highland consultant to take-on fake medical news and urban myths and stop them from “going viral".

Consultant in pharmaceutical public health Sharon Pfleger has issued a series of videos to challenge some of the many myths circulating around coronavirus.

Mrs Pfleger has so far touched on President Donald Trump’s medical advice, the impact of certain medicines, and drinking water to flush out the virus among others.

Her motivation, she said, for getting started was to confront myths based on sketchy or no clinical evidence and stop them from “going viral.”

She said: “Social media is brilliant for sharing information very widely but very quickly the downside to that is sharing of misinformation and we've seen this a lot during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Basically put – the danger of that in the time of a pandemic due to a virus is that bad information goes viral. A great example would be what President Trump said about anti-malarials – ‘what do you have to lose?’

“We all know that antibiotics are used for bacterial infections and not viral infections so taking antibiotics won't help with Covid-19. I know there are some clinical trials ongoing to see if they may help prevent or shorten the infection but the advice that we still give in the NHS is do not seek out an antibiotic for your symptoms.”

Sometimes rumours suggesting people would be better off not taking their own prescribed medicines can be as pernicious as the advice about what to take.

That is the case with another myth doing the rounds that claims people taking prescriptions for blood pressure and heart and kidney disease are more vulnerable to the virus.

“An urban myth circulating is that people who take medicines for heart failure, high blood pressure or kidney problems are more at risk of getting a virus – there is no clinical evidence to say that this is true.

“It's really important that people with these conditions take very good care of themselves right now, take their medicines as prescribed and keep themselves in the best possible health so they'll be in the strongest possible condition to fight the virus.”

But she also offers advice for people who have become unwell and has advised them to be ready should they need to be placed in hospital care and pointed to the Prime Minister as an example.

“I think what we've seen especially with the case of Boris Johnson going into hospital is that you may have mild symptoms of the virus, but all of a sudden you can go downhill,” she said.

“So it's a good idea to have a bag packed ready to go into hospital just like you would if you were going to have a baby. I suggest that people, along with the usual things that you'd take to go into a hospital such as clothes, think about your medicines.

“If you're taking any if you are taking medicines put together a list of what medicines you are taking and what you take them for – this will help the staff in hospital very quickly get an idea of your health at the moment.”

See here for one of her videos.


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