Sunday, March 22, 2020

Five fake health tips on COVID-19 we should ignore

We know that COVID-19 is a new virus and there is no known treatment. Yet, there are lots of fake health advice being circulated on social media. The worst thing is that people are falsely attributing the sources of such information to UNICEF or medical doctors to make them sound genuine. I have looked at some of the most widely circulated health advice and verified with official sources. Here are the five fake health tips we should ignore.

1. Eating raw garlic

A couple of weeks ago, my wife was advising our kids to eat raw garlic because she had seen a video on Facebook claiming that eating raw garlic would kill Coronavirus. But I told her that there is no scientific evidence to support that claim. The BBC Team has found that while garlic might have some antimicrobial properties, it does not protect us from Coronavirus. In fact, the South China Morning Post has reported that a woman had to be hospitalized for inflamed throat after consuming 1.5 KG of raw garlic.

2. Drinking water every fifteen minutes

Another health advice says that we should drink water every fifteen minutes to stay safe from COVID-19 because that would flush down the viruses from our mouth and kill them. But medical experts say that the virus mostly enters our body via respiratory tracts and hence, drinking water won’t be able to kill all the viruses even if this remedy is said to work. Of course, drinking lots of water and staying hydrated is a good health advice in general.

3. Homemade hand-sanitizer

When health professionals talked about alcohol-based hand-sanitizer, most of us thought that it can be made at home with alcohol alone. However, the fact is that even the strongest alcohol available in the market contains only 40-45 percent alcohol whereas the hand-sanitizer requires at least 60-70 percent alcohol content. This implies that the homemade sanitizer won’t be able to kill the viruses.

4. Taking hot bath or exposure to Sun kills the virus

Another claim says that taking bath in hot water or exposure to heat or sun can kill the viruses and hence, we would able to stay safe. But according to medical professionals, there is no evidence suggesting that hot water or sunlight can kill the virus. The BBC report says that it requires the temperature of more than 60 degree celcius to kill the viruses. This means that this advice may be applicable for cloths, blankets and other fabric, but not for our skin.

5. Drinking cow urine can kill the virus

One of the health advices that recently surfaced in India is that drinking cow urine can kill Coronavirus and protect us from the epidemic. This claim has emerged from the age-old tradition in India that promotes cow urine and dung as natural remedies for many diseases. However, doctors have said that there is no scientific evidence that support the belief that cow urine and dung have antiviral properties. In fact, the medical professionals advise that taking cow dung may increase health risks as the bovine faeces and urine can contain harmful bacteria and viruses.

Key points to remember

  • The good thing about COVID-19 is that it is not transmitted through air like tuberculosis and other airbone diseases.
  • COVID-19 is transmitted through droplets. This means that when an infected person coughs or sneezes, the virus is burst out in droplets that travel upto the distance of 2 meters. Hence, covering mouth and nose with tissue or elbow while coughing/sneezing, and social distancing can prevent the transmission.
  • COVID-19 can also be transmitted through contact. This means that if an infected person has coughed or sneezed and left droplets on physical objects like door-knobs, furniture, cloths and other things, we can get the virus if we happen to come into contact with those droplets. Hence, washing hands regularly with soap and water or using alcohol-based handrub can keep us safe from the virus.
  • Face-masks do not provide 100 percent protection against COVID-19 mainly because they are usually too loose and do not cover eyes. While they can protect us from dusts, they are not found to be effective when it comes to preventing Coronavirus. The World Health Organization advises that even if we use them, they should be changed regularly as they often become sweaty and unhygienic.


  1. Coronavirus: Is Drinking Cow Urine Any Help? –
  2. Coronavirus: The Fake Health Advice You Should Ignore.
  3. Q&A on Coronaviruses (COVID-19): World Health Organization
  4. Awareness program on Coronaviruses conducted by Ministry of Health for the Dept. of Youth and Sports, MoE


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