Even as the coronavirus pandemic is spreading across the world, killing more than 30,000 people worldwide, several remedies to cure the disease are going viral across social media platforms. Among the many cures, one of the messages that has been recently going viral is the message that inhaling steam from hot water will ‘kill coronavirus’. However, is this claim true?

Fact Check:

This message, which has been forwarded multiple times, mainly over messaging service platform WhatsApp, says that inhalation of steam from hot water is a fool-proof way to kill coronavirus. It says, ” A Chinese expert assures everybody that inhalation of a steam from hot water kills Corona virus 100 percent. Even if the virus entered the Nose, throat or Lungs. Corona Virus can not stand the hot water steam…
PLEASE CIRCULATE THIS INFORMATION TO ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS
.”

Meanwhile, similar messages have also been going viral over social media, regarding the benefits of steaming and gargling with salt water. One of them says, “Just received from Queens, NY: Ist hand information, Dear friends, Our Doctor who is in perfect health now,in double quick time had inhaled Steam. The other doctors at the treatment centre too are continually inhaling steam. Steaming raises the temperature of lungs, throat and mouth so that it remains healthy and perfect due to high temperature. Yes that’s true, throat must be prominently and highly protected. That’s why you can come home and inhale and gargle with warm water and salt, to remain protected and perfectly healthy. I recommend for everyone who is able to do it –

1. Use steam inhalation everyday – morning and evening if possible

2. Gargle with warm water and salt daily – morning and evening if possible.

This is a good daily practice which will improve your overall well-being and can be continued later on. Please also pass this information for the benefit of others.”

Another video on Facebook, which conveys the similar message has also gone viral. The 40-minute long video, which went live on Facebook on March 15, 2020, shows a man who asks people to inhale the steam from boiled water, containing salt and citrus peels, for 15 to 20 minutes.

However, this claim that inhaling steam from hot water will kill coronavirus is FALSE.

Medical health experts have repeatedly asserted that COVID-19 poses a viral infection and while remedies like these may cure the symptoms, it will not cure the disease. Rakesh Mishra, the director for Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Hyderabad said, “Inhaling steam when one has respiratory illness, cough or cold will help reduce the severity of such symptoms, in general. However, this inhaling will provide only symptomatic relief. It does not mean that the infection caused by the coronavirus is cured,” he said.

He further added that there are only two ways to cure the disease. “Either you need to introduce a drug into your system to fight off the viral infection, or your immunity should be really good that it can ward off the virus. There is no scientific basis to prove that inhaling steam can prevent the virus from reaching the lungs, because the virus is capable of multiplying rapidly. Moreover, there are chances of people burning themselves due to constant exposure to hot vapour. Too much steaming and inhaling could be dangerous and not really advisable,” he said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had also come up with several myth busters regarding the virus, debunking remedies like gargling with warm water as a preventive measure against COVID-19. Although it hasn’t released a separate myth-buster on steaming, the WHO has stated that taking a steaming hot bath, or using a hand dryer cannot cure COVID-19. “The COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather,” the WHO said.

So the claim that inhaling steam from hot water will kill coronavirus is FALSE.

 

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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