Myths on how to prevent or beat the novel coronavirus continue to thrive even after they’ve been debunked again and again, spread partly by chain posts on Facebook and Viber.
Like this recent lengthy chain post that contains at least five false, misleading or unfounded claims. It said some of the recommendations— drinking hot liquids and gargling mouthwash, for example—would preempt “barked airways” and help COVID-19 patients take their medicine more easily.
The dubious claims in the viral chain post:
#1 Drink lots of hot liquids or drinks, such as coffee, broth, tea, and hot water. It's good to drink every 20 minutes to keep your throat wet, and this way the virus goes to the stomach and there is a possibility of the virus to die with the help of gastric juices and acid in our stomach
#2 Gargle (mouthwash) an antiseptic mouthwash (such as Listerine, etc.), or without a mix of salt, vinegar or calamansi with warm water. Do this every day. It's better to do this with your kids.
#3 …If you can't do laundry every day, it's better to put the clothes in the sun and it will also help kill the virus.
#4 Cleanse steel items because the virus remains in "metallic surfaces" for up to 9 days…
#6 Practice washing your hands every 20 minutes…
Here’s the verdict from FactRakers and other fact checkers.
No, drinking hot liquids, “with the help of gastric juices and acid in our stomach,” won’t help kill SARS-CoV-2.
The tip on drinking hot water is also contained in a fake advisory attributed to the United Nations Children’s Fund. Unicef has refuted the claim.
U.K’s Full Fact found no evidence that the temperature of liquids consumed can protect a person from or cure diseases caused by viruses.
Healthcare website WebMD stressed that hot or warm liquids—be that water, coffee or tea—don’t flush out the novel coronavirus. It said:
Once the virus enters your mouth from droplets in the air or from your fingers, you can’t prevent it from reaching your lungs.
The British Broadcasting Corp. said unfounded claims about drinking tea made reference to the late Chinese doctor Li Wenliang who had warned of the possible virus outbreak in December in their attempt to give the statement a semblance of truth. Li is an eye specialist and not an expert on viruses, the BBC said.
Snopes earlier rated a claim that drinking hot water with lemon is a cure or prevention false.
The World Health Organization has advised the public that drinking water does not prevent coronavirus infection. Neither is there any evidence that drinking water every 15 minutes flushes out the COVID-19 virus, it said.
No, gargling mouthwash or “a mixture of salt, vinegar with warm water” won’t work, too.
FactRakers previously published a fact check debunking the myth about mouthwash, including Listerine. It quoted WHO’s advice that “there is no evidence that using mouthwash will protect you from infection with the new coronavirus.”
WHO has also said there is no evidence that salt solution can prevent Covid-19.
While gargling warm water with salt or vinegar may soothe a sore throat, it isn’t a defense against the coronavirus, Full Fact said.
There’s no evidence that leaving clothes under the sun will kill the virus.
A WHO advice categorically states:
There is no evidence that sunlight kills the new coronavirus.
WHO also said:
The COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather.
Politifact, quoting experts, said:
Natural sunlight doesn’t provide the UV intensity needed to kill the virus.
There’s no evidence as well that SARS-CoV-2 can live on metallic surfaces for up to nine days.
WHO has said it is “not certain” how long the novel coronavirus survives on surfaces, but added it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. According to WHO:
Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).
Politifact said a preliminary study published March 17 in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests “the coronavirus lives the longest on plastic and stainless steel—up to three days.”
It also said a March article in the Journal of Hospital Infection, which reviewed studies on surface viability of coronaviruses that can infect humans such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), found some of these viruses could live for up to five days on steel.
“The article did find that one strain of SARS could live for up to nine days on plastic surfaces,” Politifact said.
Health experts do advise frequent and proper handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds, but not every 20 minutes.
The Department of Health is one of the agencies that recommend “frequent and proper handwashing—wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.” But it does not specify the frequency.
Busted coronavirus myths take on new life. (2020, March 24). Retrieved from https://www.factrakers.org/post/busted-coronavirus-myths-take-on-new-life
Can gargling or drinking hot liquids help prevent the coronavirus? (2020, March 23). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/lung/qa/can-gargling-or-drinking-hot-liquids-help-prevent-the-coronavirus
Coronavirus: Does drinking tea help? (2020, March 25). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-51910099
Department of Health. (2020, March 2). What can I do to prevent the spread of covid-19? Retrieved from https://www.doh.gov.ph/node/19588
Drinking and gargling water will not cure the new coronavirus. (2020, March 16). Retrieved from https://fullfact.org/health/gargle-salt-vinegar-water-coronavirus/
Funke, D. (2020, March 25). Audio shared on Facebook Messenger spreads false information about coronavirus prevention. Retrieved from https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/25/chain-message/audio-shared-facebook-messenger-spreads-false-info/
Kasprak, A. (2020, March 26). Will lemons and hot water cure or prevent COVID-19? Retrieved from https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/lemons-coronavirus/
United Nations Children’s Fund. (2020, March 6). Statement by Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Partnerships, on coronavirus misinformation. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/statement-charlotte-petri-gornitzka-unicef-deputy-executive-director-partnerships
Viral post about someone’s uncle’s coronavirus advice is not all it’s cracked up to be. (2020, March 5). Retrieved from https://fullfact.org/online/coronavirus-claims-symptoms-viral/
World Health Organization Western Pacific [@WHOWPRO]. Q: Does drinking water alleviates a sore throat, does this also protect against 2019-nCoV infection? A: While staying hydrated by drinking water is important for overall health, it does not prevent coronavirus infection [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/WHOWPRO/status/1232636965536747520
World Health Organization. (2020, March 8). Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19) Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
World Health Organization. (n.d.) Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters
World Health Organization. (n.d.). Fact or Fiction. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/southeastasia/outbreaks-and-emergencies/novel-coronavirus-2019/fact-or-fiction