Misleading claims about traditional cures and self-checks for Coronavirus

Coronavirus False Health

With World Health Organization declaring COVID19 a pandemic situation with worldwide spread of the disease, social media platforms have been flooded with dubious claims that prevents or cures the coronavirus infection. Our fact checks revealed almost all claims are not scientifically proven, while some of these remedies might have symptomatic improvement for COVID19.

In this series, we come across a Facebook page named Indika S Vithanage spreading a post with a graphic stating “Corona virus before it reaches the lungs it remains in the throat for four days and at this time the person begins to cough and have throat pains. If he drinks water a lot and gargling with warm water & salt or vinegar eliminates the virus. Spread this information because you can save someone with this information.”The same message was widely shared with Sinhalese and Tamil translations in Sri Lanka. Below is such a post with a Sinhala text of the same message.

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Below is a post in Tamil with the same claim which has been extensively shared.

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A similar health advisory was shared widely in Sri Lanka with the text “කොරෝනා වෛරසය එක්වර ලක්ෂණ නොපෙන්වයි. එය දැනගන්නා විට පෙණහලු 50% ක් ආසාදනය වී ඇත. එම නිසා තායිවානය විශේෂඥ වෛද්‍යවරු විසින් සරල ක්‍රමයක් හඳුන්වාදී ඇත. ඔබ සෑම උදෑසනකම අවදි වීමෙන් පසු, දිගු හුස්මක් ගෙන තත්පර දහයක් එය රදවාගෙන සිටින්න.. සාර්ථකව කැස්ස, මහන්සිය, අපහසුතාවයක්, තද ගතියක් නොමැතිව ඔබට හුස්ම අල්ලාගෙන සිටීමට හැකි වුවහොත් ගැටළුවක් නොමැත දිනපතා පිරිසිදු වාතය ඇති විට මෙම පරීක්ෂාව සිදු කර බලන්න.. උගුර වියළීමට ඉඩ නොදෙන්න… විනාඩි 15කට වතාවක් හෝ වතුර පානය කරන්න.. එවිට වෛරස් තත්ත්වයක් ඇත්නම් වතුර මගින් එය සේදී යයි.. පිරිසිඳු වෙයි..නිතර ජලය පානය කරන්න.. පෙනහළුවලට වෛරසය ඇතුළු වීමට ඉඩනොදෙන්න… කරුණාකර තවත් අයෙකු දැනුවත් කරන්න”.

English translation “The coronavirus does not show symptoms at once. Once you are aware of the infection almost 50% of the lungs are infected. Therefore, Taiwanese specialist doctors have introduced a simple method. After you wake up every morning, take a deep breath and hold it for ten seconds. If you are able to breathe successfully without coughing, tiredness, discomfort, and fatigue, there is no problem. Drink water for at least 15 minutes. If there is a viral condition, it will be washed away with water. Drink plenty of water. Do not let the virus enter the virus … Please educate someone else. ”

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A message mentioning how a Japanese doctor offers excellent advice on preventing COVID-19 was shared widely among Sri Lankan Facebook users as shown below with the above narrative

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Number of users had requested to fact check these claims and were skeptical whether these claims such as Gargling with Salt Water, Continuous drinking of water are actual remedies for the deadly virus or holding breath really a ‘Simple Self-Check’ for Coronavirus, none of which had not been verified by any authorized sources.

Fact Check 

Combination of salt mixed warm water has been regarded as a cure to reduce sore throat and related illnesses, for a long time. Yet there is no scientific proof that they can help reduce COVID-19 virus infection. And although the virus is said to originate through nasal secretions in most reported cases, we could not find any documentation that confirms that the virus remains in the throat for four days as claimed. 

We contacted Dr Ashan Pathirana of Health Promotion Bureau of Sri Lanka about these claim. He emphasized that there is no scientific evidence, for the claim that drinking lots of water and gargling with warm water & salt or vinegar eliminates COVID-19. 

We checked the website of World Health Organization for information on Coronavirus infection. WHO also emphasized that drinking water is not a prevention method against Coronavirus. We found this Twitter post message of WHO Western Pacific Region

WHO states in its myth-busters section for COVID-19 that there is no evidence to suggest that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the virus.

WHO Myth-busters

In its section about Common illnesses CDC mentions that gargle with salt water and intake of warm beverages with plenty of fluids are recommended to feel better against common sore throat condition as below. Yet it is misleading and not confirmed by CDC that this is a remedy for COVID-19 related cough or throat pains.

CDC – Sore Throat

We noticed this report by APnews and Snopes also disregarding the claim that drinking water will prevent coronavirus contraction. 

With regard to the “self-check” breath test and related text, we noticed that the messages had been originally shared as “Useful info from Stanford University regarding the Coronavirus” to which Stanford University had promptly replied refuting them as inaccurate information which did not originate from the university.

Stanford – Info about Coronavirus  

We also noticed number of reports on how scientists had dismissed the self-check breath test as a valid tests method for COVID-19, stating that there is no scientific base behind such claims.

DailyMailFactcheckorg

Both CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and World Health Organization have reiterated that while there may be some symptomatic improvement for COVID19 in traditional medicinal practices none of these have shown definitive results against COVID-19

CDC | WHO 

WHO-response

Read how to protect oneself from COVID-19 by clicking the following link:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Conclusion 

Our fact check reveals that there is no scientific evidence to prove that drinking water washes down COVID-19 and gargling with warm water & salt or vinegar eliminates the Coronavirus. Similarly the self-check breath test for Coronavirus is absolutely baseless. WHO has reiterated that while there may be some symptomatic improvement in traditional medicinal practices, none of these have shown definitive results against COVID-19.

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Title:Misleading claims about traditional cures and self-checks for Coronavirus

Fact Check By: Sathyajith Subasinghe 

Result:False

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