In China, gargling with salt water is being touted as a cure for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which originated in Wuhan, a city in central China late last year, and has since gone on to infect 28,000 people all over the world.
SCMP reports that the advice is falsely attributed to Zhong Nanshan, who is a well-known respiratory expert who had been a key figure during the SARS outbreak in 2003.
In Singapore, one purported “cure” has been to drink a bowl of freshly boiled garlic water, which has been circulating around WhatsApp chats.
In India, the head of one Hindu political party has said that the application of cow dung on a person’s body is effective against the virus. While it’s sure to keep away unwanted attention from others, there is no scientific evidence supporting this particular “cure.”
The list goes on depending on where you are. In Hong Kong, and surprisingly in Canada, the advice is to drink green bean soup. In Myanmar, Buddhist monks have told their followers to put seven ground peppercorns on their tongues to keep from coming down with the virus, according to the New York Times (NYT), while a minister shared a Facebook post about eating onions to prevent the illness’ spread.
In Indonesia, the health minister himself has told people too work less and relax more, while in the Philippines two scientists have put forward coconut oil as a “treatment candidate against the coronavirus.”
In actuality, there are have been no cures found yet for the new (novel) coronavirus, which only emerged in Wuhan, China, in December, but whose rapid spread and growing death toll have caused widespread alarm worldwide.
Scientists have been working around the clock to search for both a vaccine and a cure, with millions in donations for research pouring in from individuals such as Jack Ma, Bill Gates, Jackie Chan and others.
Doctors in Thailand claim when one patient who had tested positive for the virus was treated with a mixture of anti-flu and anti-HIV drugs, she recovered from the virus and tested positive afterwards.
However, experts say that finding a cure may take at least a year, due to the need for clinical tests and trials.
In the meantime, authorities have been hard at work debunking the outrageous “cure” claims. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also been hard at work on its Twitter account correcting misinformation of this kind, using the hashtag #KnowTheFacts.
Q: Can gargling mouthwash protect you from infection with the #2019nCoV?
A: No. There is no evidence that using mouthwash will protect you from infection with the new coronavirus.#KnowYourFacts pic.twitter.com/lQEVEZ6jGT
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) February 2, 2020
The Who tweeted on Sunday, (Feb 2) “Sesame oil is delicious but it does not kill 2019-nCoV.”
“Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from 2019-nCoV,” it said in a separate tweet.
Another tweet read, “Q: Can gargling mouthwash protect you from infection with the #2019nCoV?
A: No. There is no evidence that using mouthwash will protect you from infection with the new coronavirus.#KnowYourFacts“
And while neither a cure nor a vaccine have been found, what individuals can do in the meantime is to make sure to observe good hygiene, including proper and frequent hand washing, resisting touching one’s face, etc, as well as to stay away from areas where there are crowds, experts say. -/TISG