As the spread of the coronavirus continues, so too does the wealth of false information available online promoting dodgy medicine and fake cures.
As a result, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other public health bodies have taken steps to tackle disinformation head-on, reminding people that the best way of tackling the virus is by regularly washing their hands.
Here are a number of Covid-19 myths that have been disproved by health experts.
– Zinc may boost your immune system, but it won’t prevent you from getting coronavirus
One theory gaining traction online is that the use of zinc lozenges can “block” coronavirus from spreading in the respiratory system.
However, according to Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, that claim is “absolute garbage”.
“It’s classic over-interpretation,” he said. “This would cure much – but not all – of the common cold if it were true.”
Dr Clarke added, however, that zinc can help by boosting your immune system and therefore making you more resilient overall.
– Cold weather does not kill Covid-19
Normal human body temperature remains around 36.5C to 37C, regardless of what the external weather or temperature is. That means the cold weather is not going to stop the spread of the virus, says WHO.
– Neither will taking a hot bath
For the same reason, taking a hot bath will not stop you from catching the virus.
– Will buying from China or another country with an outbreak put me at greater risk of catching Covid-19?
The WHO advises that, although the virus can remain on surfaces “for a few hours or up to several days” depending on the type of surface, it is “very unlikely” that it will survive on a surface after being “moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures”.
Anyone concerned about whether a surface could be contaminated should use disinfectant to clean it and then wash their hands.
– Using chlorine or alcohol to tackle the virus is dangerous and irresponsible
One of the more bizarre – and potentially dangerous – myths surrounding the virus is that alcohol and chlorine can kill it.
But the WHO has warned that such steps will have no impact on viruses that have already entered your body.
In fact, spraying yourself with such substances can damage your mucous membranes such as your eyes and mouth.
YouTuber Jordan Sather attracted attention after telling his 100,000 Twitter followers that chlorine dioxide – also known as MMS – was an “effective cancer cell killer” and could “wipe out coronavirus too”.
However, the advice was condemned by the University of Reading’s Dr Clarke, who told the PA news agency that while it can kill cancer or virus cells, “it kills other cells too”.
Public Health England says chlorine dioxide is toxic if swallowed and can cause irritation, headache, fever and dizziness, among other symptoms.
– Rinsing your nose with saline and eating garlic won’t help either
While there is some evidence that shows regularly rinsing your nose with saline can help you recover quicker from the common cold, the same cannot be said for the coronavirus.
The WHO said rinsing your nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory problems.
Meanwhile, despite garlic having some antimicrobial properties, there is no evidence from the current outbreak which shows it can protect people from the virus.