As the coronavirus death toll rises around the world, so too has the number of misleading and potentially deadly health tips.
So far, more than 3500 people have died and 105,000 people have been infected around the world.
As of 11.30am on Sunday, Australia had 74 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including three deaths.
There is still a lot of information that we don’t know yet about the deadly virus, and with a vaccine at least a year away, people are understandably worried.
During this time of uncertainty and fear, it is easy to panic and take any advice you believe will protect yourself and your family – even if that means stockpiling enormous amounts of toilet paper.
But not every bit of advice should taken as gospel.
Self-proclaimed medical experts and conspiracy theorists have used the crisis as an opportunity to spread misinformation and add to the confusion.
Some of their unscientific advice is bizarre and simply ineffective, while other so-called ‘health tips’ can be more dangerous than the virus itself.
Here’s what they’re saying, and why you shouldn’t believe them.
Eating garlic will prevent infection
Eating garlic is generally good for you, but there is no evidence to suggest it will stave off the virus.
In extreme cases, people have taken the ancient remedy way too far.
One woman in the eastern province of Zhejiang, China, ate so much garlic that her throat became inflamed and she had to go to hospital, the South China Morning Post reported.
Doctors found she ate about 1.5 kilograms of raw garlic – around 16 bulbs – over two weeks.
Drinking ‘miracle’ solution can ‘wipe out’ COVID-19
Whatever you do, do not drink this.
A group of conspiracy theorists, including outspoken anti-vaxxer and popular YouTuber Jordan Sather, have claimed that drinking Miracle Mineral Supplement, known as ‘miracle’ solution, can “wipe out” the coronavirus.
Would you look at that.
Not only is chlorine dioxide (aka “MMS”) an effective cancer cell killer, it can wipe out coronavirus too.
No wonder YouTube has been censoring basically every single video where I discuss it over the last year.
Big Pharma wants you ignorant. https://t.co/7cqmyUxcXY
— Jordan Sather (@Jordan_Sather_) January 23, 2020
Many of them have claimed it can cure autism, HIV and cancer, too.
But what they aren’t telling you is that this so-called ‘miracle’ solution contains chlorine dioxide – a bleaching agent.
Drinking it can kill you and it will not stop you from contracting the coronavirus.
Instead, you will probably feel very nauseous, vomit and get diarrhoea.
Saline rinse and mouthwash
There is no evidence to suggest that clearing out your sinuses or gargling mouthwash is going to protect you from the virus.
All it will do is give you a clear nasal passage and fresh breath.
Spraying alcohol and chlorine over your body
Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body can be harmful to your eyes and mouth, warns the World Health Organisation.
The only time when alcohol and chlorine can be useful is when they are being used to disinfect surfaces, such as wiping down your kitchen bench.
In one unusual case, a woman in the south-eastern province of Anhui sprayed so much alcohol on her clothes that when she went to the kitchen to check on a meal she was cooking a few minutes later, it caused an explosion that left her with serious burns on her face and hands, reported the Guangzhou Daily.
Drink water every 15 minutes
A Facebook post – shared numerous times – quotes a “Japanese doctor” who recommends drinking water every 15 minutes to flush out any virus that might have entered the mouth.
Doctors say there is no evidence this flushing will help, even though drinking water and staying hydrated is generally good medical advice.
Airborne viruses enter the body via the respiratory tract when we breathe, and while some might go into our mouth, constantly drinking water will not prevent the virus taking hold.
Making your own hand sanitiser can keep you safe
As hand sanitiser gels fly off supermarket shelves around the world, some DIY recipes have popped up on the internet.
Some have suggested making sanitiser from vodka, but it won’t work.
Vodka only contains about 40 per cent alcohol, while most sanitisers have an alcohol concentration of between 60 and 95 per cent.
Besides, a lot of these home-made disinfectant solutions are better suited for cleaning surfaces, not for use on skin.
That’s because professionally made alcohol-based hand gels usually contain emollients to make them feel softer on your hands.
If your supermarket has run out of hand sanitiser, just wash your hands with water and soap instead.
If you want to use hand sanitiser, make sure your hands are clean first.
There is no point rubbing hand gel onto dirty hands.
US televangelist Jim Bakker’s show has promoted drinking of colloidal silver – tiny particles of the precious metal suspended in liquid.
A guest who appeared on the show claimed the solution can kill some strains of coronavirus within 12 hours.
He did, however, admit the liquid hadn’t been tested on COVID-19.
The potential ‘cure’ has been widely shared on Facebook, particularly by members of “medical freedom” groups who are deeply suspicious of mainstream medical advice.
Proponents of colloidal silver claim it can treat a range of medical conditions, aid the immune system and act as an antiseptic.
US health authorities, however, say there is no evidence colloidal silver is effective for any health condition, and in fact could cause serious side effects including kidney damage, seizures and even turn your skin blue.[embedded content]