We've got news for you.

Register on Sunday Times at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Garlic, pets, antibiotics: what Saffers do and don’t know about ...


Garlic, pets, antibiotics: what Saffers do and don’t know about Covid-19

A new survey has revealed that some South Africans know ‘nothing at all’ about the pandemic

Senior reporter
A new survey unpacks what South Africans know about Covid-19.
IN THE KNOW A new survey unpacks what South Africans know about Covid-19.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

Despite extensive news coverage and awareness campaigns by government, South Africans are still not sure about the workings of Covid-19, with some believing  it can be cured with antibiotics.

A survey conducted by gig economy company M4Jam through 1,000 respondents’ cellphones indicated that while 55% of the sample believed they knew “a great deal” about Covid-19, some of their responses contradicted this.

“Thirty-two percent of respondents were more circumspect, saying they knew a ‘fair amount’, with only 3% claiming to know ‘nothing at all’ about the most newsworthy event of the year,” said Georgie Midgley, CEO of M4Jam.

Respondents, of whom 37% were from Gauteng and 25% from KwaZulu-Natal, in a demographically representative sample, said they were mostly in good (31%) to very good (28%) and even excellent (24%) health.

If they noticed symptoms in themselves or others, 88% said they knew what to do to seek help and get tested.

Three percent claimed to know 'nothing at all' about the most newsworthy event of the year.
Georgie Midgley

When it came to treatment, 44% said they were unsure if antibiotics could treat the virus and 12% thought they could cure it. 

Forty-one percent were  uncertain of  whether taking antibiotics could prevent contracting the virus and 10% incorrectly thought antibiotics could prevent transmission.

The survey showed that 37% were unsure of whether eating garlic could reduce a person’s chances of contracting the virus and 27% believed eating garlic would be useful in lessening chances of transmission. 

Thirty-nine percent said they were unsure whether to be wary of animals transmitting the virus and 23% thought pets and animals could pass it on to humans.

When asked if they were concerned about contracting the virus, 77% said they were worried, while 23% felt there was no reason to be concerned.

Opinions on whether they were likely to contract Covid-19, however, were more evenly split, with 40% trusting they would not contract the virus, 14% thinking there was no chance of contracting it and 37% believing they might get it. 

Nine percent felt they were very likely to get the virus.

In assessing the media’s role in informing the public about Covid-19 and keeping South Africans up to date, 75% believed media outlets, in general, were not exaggerating the seriousness of the pandemic. 

In comparison, 10% considered the media to be “over-hyping” the virus and its effects.

Seventy-five percent thought they could successfully prevent themselves and their families from contracting Covid-19, with the remaining 25% believing they could not, even with their own behavioural and preventive measures in place. 

Most respondents indicated they were not panicking.

Ninety-four percent said they were washing their hands with soap and water more often and 88% were using disinfectant and hand sanitiser daily. 

Ninety-five percent were avoiding shaking hands with another person.

World Health Organisation’s (WHO) myth-busters:

  • 5G mobile networks don’t spread Covid-19.
  • You can catch Covid-19 no matter how sunny or hot the weather.
  • Drinking alcohol does not protect you against Covid-19 and can be dangerous.
  • Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching Covid-19.
  • Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered it.
  • There is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.
  • Covid-19 is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.