There is no cure for COVID-19.
So as the number of cases rise in Australia and around the world, people are understandably searching for ways to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of unqualified people out there ready to oblige with advice, most of which is completely unfounded and potentially dangerous.
Mamamia‘s daily news podcast, The Quicky, scoured social media for some of the most persistent myths and misinformation, and brought in an actual expert to address them: GP Dr Brad McKay.
Watch: The Quicky’s Claire Murphy answers your COVID-19 questions.
But first, a reminder… According to the World Health Organisation, legitimate ways to protect yourself from COVID-19 include:
- practise social distancing;
- avoid touching your face;
- regularly wash your hands with soap and water (and do it thoroughly, for at least 40 seconds);
- cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.
MYTH: Drinking hot water every 15 minutes will kill coronavirus.
A viral list of ‘coronavirus-prevention’ tips, which has been shared widely on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, is filled with questionable advice from unreliable sources. Among them: drinking hot fluids regularly “will sweep [the virus] away through the esophagus and into the stomach. Once in the belly, gastric acid in the stomach will kill all the virus.”
Dr Brad McKay said the claim is wrong on “multiple levels”.
“If you’re exposed to the virus, then generally the receptors that the virus hooks onto are down deep in your lungs. That’s why we say that if you’re smelling somebody’s breath, you’re probably too close to them; even their breath can contain coronavirus.
“So the viral particles, you actually breathe in, into your lungs. It doesn’t hibernate in your throat before going to the rest of your body.”
MYTH: Breathing in hot air from a hairdryer will kill coronavirus in your lungs.
One of the more bizarre — and potentially dangerous — claims circulating online is that breathing in hot air will kill any COVID-19 in your lungs and throat.
In one particularly baffling video, a man (who is absolutely not a medical doctor) suggested drinking hot water, sitting in a sauna or blasting a hairdryer up your nose to ward off coronavirus infection.
Listen: Epxerts answer your most pressing questions about the novel coronavirus.
It’s a bunch of hot air. So please, don’t do it. Ever.
“If you’re pointing the hairdryer up your nose or down your throat, [to kill viral particles] you’d really have to have it on a temperature that was so high that it would burn you. And we really don’t advise you to do that,” Dr McKay said.”I don’t want anyone burning their lungs.”