FACT CHECK: Does gargling salt water, vinegar or warm water kill coronavirus?


CLAIM: Coronavirus before it reaches the lungs, it remains in the throat for four days and at this time, the person begins to cough and have throat pains. If he drinks water a lot and gargling with warm water & salt or vinegar eliminates the virus. Spread this information because you can save someone with this information.


FULL STORY: A viral graphic image post on WhatsApp, an instant social media messaging platform claims that coronavirus, a virus which causes COVID-19 can be killed when the victim drinks a lot of water and gargles the mouth with warm water, salt and/or vinegar, it helps to kill the virus while it’s stucked in the through in its first four days.

This post has since gone viral on social media platforms.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain – of the a large family of Coronaviruses (CoV) that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) – that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.

Its common symptoms include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties and in more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

 Case summary of the disease – declared as a pandemic by WHO – as at March 13th, 2020 states that no death has been recorded in Nigeria of the only two confirmed cases. NCDC also added that one of the cases has since been discharged.

While the global case summary of the disease which has affected 135 countries/territories/areas indicates that 142,539 (9769 new) cases have been confirmed as at March 14th resulting in 5,393 deaths (438 new).

VERIFYING THE CLAIM: Checks by Nigerian Tribune showed that the information provided in the post is not only false but also far from the truth.

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A swift response to an enquiry sent to the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) on Saturday evening also confirmed this claim.

After Nigerian Tribune asked the NCDC via its verified Twitter account to verify this claim, NCDC said: “This is false. Please only refer to guidance from verified authorities such as WHO and NCDC.”

NCDC also referred Nigerian Tribune to its webpage specifically dedicated to provide all information on the novel strain of the disease.

A tweet by NCDC on Sunday afternoon debunking the claim reads: “KNOW THE FACTS! Q: Can drinking/gargling with salt water or vinegar protect me from #COVID19?

“A: NO. Doing this can be harmful. To protect yourself and your loved ones, practice proper personal and respiratory hygiene. For more advice visit: http://covid19.ncdc.gov.ng.”

An enquiry sent to the WHO is awaiting a response as at the time of filing this report.

Further checks by Nigerian Tribune show that WHO’s myth buster webpage says there’s no known evidence that saline helps prevent people from contracting the coronavirus infection.

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“No. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus.

“There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections,” WHO said on the website.

Nigerian Tribune checks also revealed that the standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include;

  1. Regular handwashing,
  2. Covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing,
  3. Thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.
  4. Covering the mouth and nose properly with a tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. Dispose the tissue properly immediately after use. You may also cough into your elbow if a tissue is not available.

WHO and the NCDC have also warned people to void close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing, while the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers have been encouraged when water is unavailable.

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