False! There is Nothing Like ‘World Covid-19 Elimination Day’

A message suggesting that February 22-28 has been set as ‘World Covid-19 Elimination Day’ is circulating on social media, especially on WhatsApp.

The message which has gone viral also indicates that doctors have advised a mass inhalation of “vapour” to eliminate potential coronavirus hidden within the sinus area of the respiratory system.

It further claims the effectiveness of the inhaling exercise lies in it being carried out at the same time, hence February 22-28 is the period selected for the exercise. It lists menthol, ginger, and boiled water amongst the ingredients needed to undertake this self-medication.

“To make this action more effective, everyone had to do it within the same period of time. So the week of February 22nd to 28th, 2021 has been chosen for the first vapour inhalation campaign. Every evening ( or any other free time on your schedule) boil basil and ginger in 2 liters of water ( 2 mins), incorporate 1 teaspoon full of lemon juice, and inhale the vapour for 5-10 minutes. If you do not have the above-mentioned ingredients, you’ll just need to incorporate 1 tablespoonful of menthol (eg. Vicks),” the message claims.

Factcheck-Ghana has verified the claim and concludes that it is false. The team presents the details below after verifying the viral message.

Has February 22-28 been set as World Covid-19 Elimination Day?

No. February 22-28 has not been set as World Covid-19 Elimination Day. In fact, there is no day like that. In fact, there is an inconsistency in the message that impugns its credibility. The duration as stipulated for the said exercise is seven days, which is one week. But it goes on to say “elimination day” instead of a week.

Also, none of the sources for credible information on the virus has anything on this supposed day or week. The World Health Organisation (WHO), the Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the Ghana Health Service (GHS), the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), and all other relevant stakeholders, both international and local, have not stated anything on their respective websites concerning the claim.

Further, no credible news website or health information outlet has produced any report concerning the day.

What is the GHS’ take on the circulating message?

Fact-Check Ghana engaged the Ghana Health Service (GHS) beyond their website to find out more about the viral claim. The Director of Public Health at the GHS, Dr Badu Sarkodie, has asked the public to disregard the message. He reaffirmed the nonexistence of any information concerning the ‘elimination day’ on credible outlets.

“There is nothing like that and we have not sighted that from any of the accredited experts globally. We have not seen any publication from the peer review sources indicating that” Dr. Badu Sarkodie told Factcheck-Ghana.

He further said that Ghana and the world have not even gotten to the elimination stage as far as Covid-19 is concerned, adding that “we’re in a pandemic, we have to do our best to contain it which we are having challenges as a global community. We have to control it first before we go to elimination.”

Dr Sarkodie further indicated that the prescription being stated in the circular is “not part of the treatment guide for now.”

Is Menthol inhalation a cure for Covid-19?

The Director of Public Health at the GHS indicated that the prescription in the circulated message is not part of the treatment guide for COVID-19. Neither the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nor the World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested steam therapy or menthol with any ingredient as a cure for the coronavirus. A representative from the CDC told Reuters he was not aware of any scientific studies that show steam therapy helps with the coronavirus.

Even though research shows steam therapy can help thin mucus as a supplemental course of action to give some relief when grappling with a cold or flu, scientific studies have not provided evidence of its usefulness in treating COVID-19.

Despite the relief it offers for flu patients, steam therapy can have associated risks. A study published by the Spanish Pediatrics Association notes: “It is apparent that regardless of how Steam Inhalation Therapy (SIT) is applied, it carries a risk of burn injury. The usual technique of covering the head with a towel over a pan filled with hot water is dangerous due to the steam, the hot liquid, or even potential contact with the container.

The American Burn Association also explains, “Hot water will burn the skin at temperatures much lower than boiling point (212°F/100°C). In fact, it only takes 3 seconds of exposure to 140°F/60°C water to cause a burn serious enough to require surgery.”

This report is produced under the project: COVID-19 Response in Africa: Together for Reliable Information being implemented with funding support from the European Union.

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