Fact Check: Can gargling with warm salt water prevent Coronavirus?

Hyderabad: In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, many false messages about the prevention and treatment of the illness are going viral on the internet.

On such widely circulated advice is asking people to try gargling various substances to ‘eliminate’ the virus and prevent it from reaching the lungs.

This viral social media forward is an image with a text which reads: “Coronavirus before reaching the lungs remains in the throat for four days and at this time the person begins to cough and have throat pains. Drinking a lot of water, gargling with warm water mixed with salt or vinegar eliminates the virus.”

Can Gargel Prevent Coronavirus

Fact Check:

An investigation conducted by this correspondent found the claim to be FALSE.

While the incubation period for Covid-19 is estimated at about five days on average, there is no evidence that it ‘stays in the throat for four hours’. Neither there is any official or medical advisory recommending the use of saline or vinegar to eliminate the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) explains on its “myth busters” page that there is no evidence that saltwater eliminates coronavirus.

“While staying hydrated by drinking water is important for overall health, it does not prevent coronavirus infection,” said WHO.

This statement of WHO was in response to a question: “If drinking water alleviates a sore throat, does this also protect against Covid-19 infection?”

However, it acknowledges that there is some limited evidence that rinsing the nose using saline (saltwater) may help people recover faster from a common cold, but that cannot prevent respiratory infections.

NewsMeter asked the credibility of the recommendation to an Infectious Disease Physician in Hyderabad.

“Gargling with salt water has proven to be an effective home remedy for a sore throat. Though sore throat is a possible symptom of coronavirus, there is no evidence that gargling can prevent the virus,” said the doctor wishing not to be named.

The official Twitter account of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has also debunked the claim.

“NO. Doing this can be harmful. To protect yourself and your loved ones, practice proper personal and respiratory hygiene,” NCDC tweeted on the issue.

Result:

Therefore the claim that gargling with warm water, saltwater or vinegar is FALSE.

Dheeshma Puzhakkal

Dheeshma Puzhakkal is currently a Reporter with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University, she has interned with Greater Kashmir newspaper and NDTV. Dheeshma has also made short films and documentaries. Her documentary ‘Still I Rise’, which is based on sex-trafficking in Hyderabad’s Old City, has earned accolades in several film festivals, such as International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kerala (IDSFFK). An avid foodie, she loves to travel and listen to stories that others tell. Photography is one of her all-time interests. She has extensively written on satellite-based journalism, health, consumer, and data stories besides covering anti-crime investigative agencies.

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