FACT CHECK: Viral Image Offers False Tips On How To Avoid And Self-Test For Coronavirus

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook offers tips, purportedly from medical experts, on how to avoid and self-test for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Verdict: False

There is no current evidence that coronavirus symptoms cause fibrosis. Only approved medical tests can detect infection. Drinking water does not prevent people from contracting the disease.

Fact Check:

The post, which has been widely shared on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms, claims that coronavirus patients can develop 50 percent pulmonary fibrosis if they wait too long to go to the hospital. It also suggests that holding one’s breath for 10 seconds can determine if a person has the disease and that drinking water every 15 minutes prevents infection.

Social media users have falsely attributed the claims to Japanese doctors and Taiwanese experts, despite numerous fact-checkers debunking them.(RELATED: Viral Image Claims To Show A UNICEF Letter About Preventing Coronavirus)

“Fibrosis is a late scarring process,” Loren Raunch, a community emergency room doctor at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, California, told Mother Jones. “You may have 50 percent of your lung affected by the virus, causing pneumonia or fluid in your lungs. But fibrosis – that is not correct.”

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The World Health Organization (WHO) also notes that people infected with the virus may experience “aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea” and, in severe cases, breathing difficulties. These symptoms typically appear within 14 days after exposure.

The claim that Taiwanese experts developed a self-test for COVID-19 doesn’t hold up either. The Daily Caller didn’t find any evidence that Taiwanese researchers developed such a test online or that it’s a valid test, and the Taiwan Fact Check Center debunked the notion in a Feb. 2 article.

“This approach may be helpful in identifying persons with more serious lung disease,” Dr. Robert Legare Atmar, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor College of Medicine, told The Associated Press. “But it will not identify persons who are infected and have mild to no symptoms.”

The only definitive way to determine if a person has contracted COVID-19 is to take an approved test. (RELATED: No, Morel Mushrooms Are Not The Source Of Coronavirus)

“Drink some water every 15 minutes,” the post also states. “Even if the virus gets into your mouth, drinking water or other fluids will help wash it down the esophagus into the stomach. When the virus is in the stomach — the hydrochloric acid in your stomach will kill the germs.”

The WHO Philippines Twitter account debunked the claim about drinking water every 15 minutes, saying, “While staying hydrated by drinking water is important for overall health, it does not prevent coronavirus infection.”

Some iterations of the Facebook post cite a Stanford University internal message board but, according to Stanford Health Care spokeswoman Lisa Kim, that attribution is false.

“A widely distributed email about COVID-19 that is attributed to a ‘Stanford Hospital board member’ contains inaccurate information,” Kim told the Caller in an email. “It did not come from Stanford Medicine.”

Matt Noel contributed to this report.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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