This week, a coronavirus hoax message has been doing the rounds on social media that includes several false claims about the virus.
The message, which has appeared on WhatsApp and Facebook, claims to be based on advice from ‘Stanford Hospital board’.
It contains several bizarre pieces of advice, including drinking water to ‘wash the virus down your throat’, and holding your breath for 10 seconds to check if you have the disease.
Despite the fact that it’s been widely shared, none of the tips have any science to back them up.
Firstly, Stanford Health has confirmed that the message did not come from the university.
A spokesperson said: “A widely distributed email about COVID-19 that is attributed to a ‘Stanford Hospital board member’ contains inaccurate information. It did not come from Stanford Medicine.”
One of the most misleading claims in the email suggests that people should drink water to wash away the virus.
The hoax says: “Everyone should ensure your mouth & throat are moist, never dry. Take a few sips of water every 15 minutes at least. Why? Even if the virus gets into your mouth, drinking water or other liquids will wash them down through your throat and into the stomach.
“Once there, your stomach acid will kill all the virus. If you don’t drink enough water more regularly, the virus can enter your windpipe and into the lungs. That’s very dangerous.”
While staying hydrated is important, drinking water shows no evidence of protecting you from the virus, according to the World Health Organisation.
Meanwhile, another tip suggests holding your breath for 10 seconds to check if you have the virus.
The hoax says: “Take a deep breath and hold your breath for more than 10 seconds. If you complete it successfully without coughing, without discomfort, stiffness or tightness, etc., it proves there is no Fibrosis in the lungs, basically indicates no infection.”
Unfortunately, this is also not true.
Speaking to CNN, Dr. Robert Legare Atmar, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor College of Medicine, explained: “When someone has an acute viral infection it can be difficult to take a deep breath and not cough because the airways are irritated. That’s all it means.
“It doesn’t say anything about fibrosis, even though people with fibrosis might struggle doing it. Being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds also doesn’t mean someone doesn’t have coronavirus.”
If you receive the message, please do not forward it on to your friends, and delete it.