Don't believe these 8 hoaxes about the novel coronavirus

Mar 19, 2020

JUST like the novel coronavirus itself, false information about the treatment, cure, and transmission of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly online.

And as much we cut like to cut down these hoaxes, which may cause more panic, uninformed netizens keep them circulating online, and the least that we can do is to verify.

Filtering information could include fact-checking from legit news sources and finding confirmation from your local authorities.

Here’s a list of debunked claims, circulating both in the local and international feeds, each with an explanation from a medical professional on why it shouldn’t be done. We are not embedding or reposting images, posts, or screencaps of these claims to halt the spread even further.

Eating more bananas can keep you safe from acquiring the virus


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Few infographics and even instructive videos are shared online about this claim, though Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo mentioned it briefly during one of the early press cons about the pandemic.

It is, of course, in no way effective.

Sure, bananas are enriched with nutrients but there is no way it can keep you safe from getting infected by the virus. Hence, it could even be harmful for the senior citizens and diabetic people.

“No matter how many pieces of bananas you eat, it’s not going to save you from the virus. No amount of it is saving you. It may sound delicious to do that, but it is not recommended especially for the elderly and the diabetic as it can increase the blood sugar, which makes you more prone to the infection,” said Dr. Endymion Tan, adult infectious disease specialist from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

Holding breath for 10 seconds without discomfort guarantees your safety

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There are several circulating group chats and text messages regarding this piece of advice. Some even quote a non-existent health institute.

While doing this has no reliable backup studies that it has benefits, it might just worsen your situation as it can affect your breathing and even trigger your cough.

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Dr. Tan explained: “Doing this might put additional discomfort for yourself. Holding your breath is hard. It is not physiological or even normal to hold your breath, it won’t prevent you from getting infected.”

Exposing yourself to smoke can counter the infection

Another state of claim circulating the internet is pagpapa-usok sa sarili para hindi tablan ng coronavirus. As weird as it sounds, no study has proven this effective, otherwise, it can even cause more harm to a person.

“This isn’t advisable as you might even inhale harmful chemicals. Don’t do this,” said Dr. Tan.

Drinking water every 15 minutes can wash away the virus from your throat


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While it is important to keep oneself hydrated, there is no guarantee that it can make the virus go away.

“Drinking water is very helpful. You can drink water as much as you want. It doesn’t have to be every 15 minutes but it’s not going to wash away the coronavirus. The virus does not stay in your throat. Its transmission is through the respiratory tract, but no, this will in no way wash away the infection,” the RITM doctor elaborated.

Applying sanitizer is more effective than washing hands with soap and water


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The supply of alcohol and sanitizers supply in the country has become low ever since the pandemic took over. When community quarantine was announced, people began panic-buying these. What's very strange is, soaps are not being hoarded the same way.

While 70% alcohol and sanitizers can be a good alternative, washing your hands the proper way with soap and water is still your top defense.

“It is still the best, still the most ideal way to disinfect," Dr. Tan said. "Whenever it’s available do it. You need to wash your hands before and after eating, before and after going to the toilet, literally before and after any activity.”

Smoking can help prevent acquisition of the virus


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According to the World Health Organization, about 8 million people are recorded dying from smoking annually. People with severe medical conditions are more vulnerable and thus, smoking can worsen their situation and may post higher risk of suffering from the coronavirus.

Drinking boiled ginger- and garlic-infused water for three days won’t cure the disease


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No scientific claims have been proven that doing this would cure people who have the disease.

Hence, Dr. Mark Kristoffer Pasayan, a fellow at the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, told Agency France Presse on February 12, 2020: “For all coronaviruses, there is no evidence pointing to the efficacy of this method to prevent and even cure viral infections.

“Having low humidity and cold environments makes it easy for one pathogen to be transmitted from one person to another... but it is not connected with the intake of any hot food or item.”

Coronavirus will likely end as dry season approaches


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With the lack of established studies about the virus, there is still no assurance that hot temperature can make it go away.

In an email to AFP on February 12, 2020, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization said: “The virus is too new for us to know how weather could affect transmissibility. The virus has affected people in cold/dry and warm/wet climates.”

Dr. Tan emphasized that self-discipline in various ways is still the most essential weapon against the Coronavirus for now. This includes proper hygiene, proper cough etiquette (covering your mouth with tissue), observance of social distancing, and the filtering of information handed to you.

“Take only bonafide information from a health specialist. Refrain from reading and searching online, because most of the time, it’s not reliable,” he said as some citizens tend to engage with misinformation found online.

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