FALSE: Gargling salt water ‘eliminates’ coronavirus

Claim: Gargling salt with water “eliminates” the 2019 novel coronavirus.

A graphic that carried this claim circulated on social media said: “Corona virus 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.”

Several readers sent the graphic to Rappler for fact checking. Facebook’s monitoring tool Claim Checks also flagged at least a hundred different posts containing the graphic, with the earliest post share on March 13. It is still being circulated as of writing.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: Local and international health authorities have said there is not enough study that proves gargling water with salt eliminates the novel coronavirus. To date, there is still no known cure for it.

In a press conference in January, Health undersecretary Eric Domingo said: "I don’t think there is any evidence that it will kill a virus. I think this is a home remedy that has been followed for many, many generations and I don’t think there’s going to be any harm in doing it. Saline gargle has always been advocated to improve mostly symptoms of sore throat.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) also debunked a similar claim, saying that regularly rinsing nose with saline does not help prevent infection.

“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,” the WHO said in its COVID-19 myth busters page.

While some food may help strengthen the immune system of humans, there is still no confirmed drug or food yet that effectively eliminates the virus as of writing. Health authorities still recommend practicing proper hygiene by regularly washing hands and avoiding close contact with people who are sick as the best preventive measures against the virus. – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com

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