FALSE: Drinking hot water with salt kills, flushes out coronavirus

Claim: A Filipino living in America cured himself of COVID-19 after drinking a glass of water with a teaspoon of salt.

Facebook user Boyet Castelo went on Facebook live on April 19 to share his experience. According to him, he was cured of COVID-19 after he mixed a teaspoon of salt in a glass of hot water and drank it in 3 gulps. He added that he drank another glass of warm water after 15 minutes, this time without salt, to wash the virus away and release it via urine.

Patay po ang virus – hindi 50%, 100% (The virus was killed – not just 50%, but 100%),” he said.

Castelo claimed he had COVID-19 and said he experienced itchy throat, difficulty in breathing, and dry mouth. After drinking the water with salt, he said he was able to breathe comfortably in under 30 minutes.

He then urged other COVID-19 patients to try his method. “Kahit 'yung mga gumaling na 'yan (from COVID-19), hindi sila nakakasigurado na wala na. Pero itong sinasabi ko sa inyo, kung saang sulok ng mundo na may asin, i-try n'yo naWalang mawawala.”

(Even those who recovered from the disease, they can’t be sure that the virus is totally eradicated. But with this method, in all corners of the world where there is salt, I’m urging you to try it, There's nothing to lose.)

As of writing, Castelo’s video had over 2.4 million views, 137,000 shares, 60,000 reactions, and 17,000 comments. Castelo’s video was reposted by at least 7 Facebook accounts and pages since April 20. Claim Check, Facebook's monitoring tool, flagged these videos for verification.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: In another video Castelo posted on April 23, he said he had not yet been tested for the coronavirus. There is also no registered cure for COVID-19 to date, and the World Health Organization (WHO) warns against self-medication.

Castelo said he will be tested for the coronavirus in an American hospital in two days. Although he claims to have been relieved by drinking salt water, the illness he was suffering from was not confirmed to be COVID-19.

Iniischedule po ang pagtingin dito. 'Pag wala po kasing request ng doctor ko, hindi ako titingnan ng COVID. Dalawang araw na lang po (Testing for COVID-19 is scheduled here in America. If there is no request from a doctor, I would not be tested for COVID-19. I will be tested in two days),” Castelo said, adding that he will share his test results on Friday, April 24.

In its frequently asked questions page, WHO says: “While some western, traditional, or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease. WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19.”

Both WHO and the Department of Health (DOH) have previously debunked claims that salt can kill the novel coronavirus, although it is known to have a disinfecting component.

A related claim already debunked by Rappler said that gargling saline can cure COVID-19. The DOH has said that although it is used as a home remedy for symptoms of sore throat, “there is no medical evidence” that saline can kill the virus that causes COVID-19. (READ: FALSE: Gargling salt water ‘eliminates’ coronavirus)

The benefits of adding salt to drinking water are still also debated. A Healthline article said there is no scientific evidence that a “saltwater flush” – which is a mixture of warm water and non-iodized salt – detoxifies the body.

An Independent article in 2018 also cited an epidemiologist who said that while salt is needed in the everyday diet, too much salt could result in high blood pressure.

Another related claim already debunked by Rappler was that coronavirus can be flushed out of the body by drinking hot liquids. Dr Norberto Francisco, chief of clinical trials and research at the Lung Center of the Philippines, said “there is no basis for that claim.” (READ: FALSE: Drinking water 'washes' coronavirus, prevents it from entering lungs)

Although there is still no registered cure for COVID-19, scientists all over the world are racing to develop different types of vaccine and medicine for the virus. Several clinical trials are also being conducted all over the world. (READ: What you need to know: Coronavirus cures, vaccines being tested)

On April 15, the government announced that the Philippines is ready to participate in the clinical trial of Japanese anti-flu drug Avigan as a possible COVID-19 cure. – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com

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