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That Viral Post With Coronavirus Tips Has Some Really Bad Advice

Drinking water is good, but it won't kill the COVID-19 virus.

Posted on March 12, 2020, at 2:04 p.m. ET

Twitter / @brithernature

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A viral list of coronavirus tips purportedly from Stanford University and other medical experts is filled with questionable advice, including the false claim that drinking water can “kill” the virus.

The list is being shared on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and other platforms, with many people incorrectly attributing it to Stanford University, or other seemingly reliable sources, such as a doctor at Shenzhen Hospital in China.

Its most alarming claim is that drinking water every 15 minutes will wash coronavirus “down through your throat and into the stomach. Once there, your stomach acid will kill all the virus.”

That’s false, and has been debunked by multiple experts.

“We always caution anyone healthy and people who are sick to keep up fluid intake and keep mucus membranes moist,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert with Vanderbilt University, told the Associated Press. “It makes you feel better, but there is no clear indication that it directly protects you against complications.”

The same list also includes instructions, often attributed to a Taiwanese doctor, for checking yourself for coronavirus. It advises people to hold a deep breath for 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.”

Well, no.

“That’s not true. That can check if you are anxious or have respiratory compromise,” but not tell you if you have coronavirus, according to Dr. Loren Rauch, a doctor at Antelope Valley Hospital in Los Angeles, who has a master’s degree in epidemiology.

Rauch also told Mother Jones that the list’s claim that the virus can be “killed by a temperature of just 26/27 degrees” is incorrect. Sunlight does act as a disinfectant thanks to its natural ultraviolet light. “But just, like, ‘It’s gonna be a warm day today. We don’t have to worry about coronavirus,’ I don’t think that’s gonna work,” Rauch said.

The best prevention advice is to avoid exposure by practicing social distancing, washing your hands regularly, and avoiding touching your face, mouth, and eyes. If you feel ill, seek medical attention. And instead of relying on viral chain letters, consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, or the real coronavirus advice being offered by Stanford Medicine.

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