Coronavirus: 5 False Viral Health Prescriptions You Should Ignore

Coronavirus (Covid-19) is spreading across many countries in the world and Ghana recorded its eleventh case on March 19, 2020. While there’s currently no known cure, there are many messages circulating on various social media platforms that are proffering local and home-made remedies as protection from the pandemic disease. The fact-checking team of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has verified some of these widespread claims against reports from medical experts, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and other credible institutions designated to inform the public on the disease.

Alcohol | Photo Credit: Modern Ghana

Claim 1: Using alcohol to wash your hands in place of hand sanitizers can prevent the contraction of Covid-19

Verdict: Completely False

Explanation: According to the Director of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), Professor Abraham Annan, the use of alcohol in place of hand sanitizers can increase the probability of picking up the virus. Professor Annan said, alcohol can be a good disinfectant. However, alcohol that is used for disinfection is treated with distilled water and kept at a certain concentration. Therefore, when one uses a locally brewed gin or alcohol with different concentration, it is likely to coat the hands with a sticky substance which would rather pick up germs including the coronavirus and can lead to the increase of infection.

The Centre for Plant Medicine Research (CPMR) in Mampong Akuapem has also downplayed the assertion that an alcohol can be used in place of hand sanitizers. In a statement released on March 17, 2020, the Centre explained that: “For a sanitizer to be effective in ridding the hands of coronavirus, sanitizers must have 60-95% alcohol by volume, and that alcohol content for bitters on the market is often less than 45%”.

The best way form of protection is washing your hands with soap under running water.

Garlic | Photo Credit: Medical News Today

Claim 2: Eating a lot of garlic can prevent you from catching Covid-19

Verdict: Completely False

Explanation: The World Health Organization (WHO) states that, though garlic is a healthy food with antimicrobial properties in it, there is no proof that it can protect people from contracting Covid-19. Eating garlic on its own is not harmful. They can however become harmful if one eats them at the detriment of adhering to scientifically proven or medically proven evidence strategies to protect them from contracting the virus.


Claim 3: Drinking water every fifteen (15) minutes can prevent the contraction of Covid-19

Verdict: Completely false

Explanation: A tweet on the WHO’s official Twitter account states in part: “While staying hydrated by drinking water is important for overall health, it does not prevent coronavirus infection.” Other experts have explained that viruses like Covid-19 are respiratory and enter the body through the respiratory tract when you breathe in, and this may lead to some of the virus entering your mouth. The constant drinking of water is not going to stop you from contracting the virus or wash it down into your stomach and kill it as some social media messages seem to indicate. However, drinking water and staying hydrated is good medical advice which can help promote other physiological functions which may boost your immune system.

Home-made Sanitizers | Photo Credit: Going Evergreen

Claim 4: Home-made sanitizers are a good substitute to commercially produced ones

Verdict: Completely false

Explanation: Medical experts are warning consumers about making home-made sanitizers or buying do-it-yourself hand-gels made by amateurs. They explain that home-made hand sanitizers are not more effective than commercially produced ones and that the recipes going around online are better suited for cleaning surfaces and not for the human skin. This is because alcohol-based hand sanitizers contain moisturizers that make them gentle on the skin even though they contain 60 to 70% of alcohol. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) points out that most common household cleaning agents should be effective in disinfecting surfaces against the Coronavirus.

Warm Water | Photo Credit: ListSurge

Claim 5: Exposure to the sun and drinking hot water kills the virus

Verdict:  Mostly False

Explanation:  Experts say even though flu virus does not survive well outside the body during very hot weather or high temperatures, there is no evidence if the same rings true for the Covid-19. Thus, claims that purport exposure to the sun and drinking hot water will kill the virus are unsubstantiated.

UNICEF further explains that in order to kill a virus with heat, the required temperature is around sixty (60) degrees Celsius. Claims that having hot baths and or drinking hot liquids do not actually change the body’s temperature unless you are ill.  Exposing your body to the sun or with the presumption that it will kill the virus or making your body an unwelcome host to the virus is not true. However, washing your beddings and towels at sixty (60) degrees Celsius can kill any virus in the fabric.

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