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A post is being circulated on social media platforms which advises people who suspect they might be infected by COVID-19 to hold their breath for more than 10 seconds. The message claims that if one is successful in their attempt, then chances are one does not have the infection.
The viral posts also suggest that drinking water regularly would ensure that any virus caught orally will be washed into the stomach and killed.
"Take a deep breath and hold your breath for more than 10 seconds. If you complete it successfully without coughing, without discomfort stiffness or tightness, etc., it proves there is no Fibrosis in the lungs, basically indicates no infection. In a critical time, please self-check every morning in an environment with clean air," reads the caption of one such post.
Below are the various versions of the claims:
Some of these posts are attributed to the Stanford hospital board.
To self diagnose COVID-19, one should hold their breath for more than 10 seconds. If one is successful without coughing, discomfort, stuffiness or tightness, it proves that there is no fibrosis in the lungs and by extension no infection.
The claim is misleading.
Stanford University took to Twitter to rubbish the claims.
"Misinformation about COVID-19 symptoms and treatment falsely attributed to Stanford is circulating on social media and in email forwards. It is not from Stanford," they wrote on Twitter.
Misinformation about COVID-19 symptoms and treatment falsely attributed to Stanford is circulating on social media and in email forwards. It is not from Stanford. Official information from Stanford is available at https://t.co/LlNXeyuejP.— Stanford University (@Stanford) March 13, 2020
The Chief Quality Officer and Chief of Infectious Diseases from the University of Maryland, Dr Faheem Younus tweeted on March 16 that usually young patients will be able to hold their breaths for much longer than 10 seconds despite having the infection. On the other hand, elderly patients without the virus won't be able to do it.
Myth #3: If you can hold your breath for ten seconds without discomfort, you don't have COVID.— Faheem Younus, MD FIDSA, FACP (@FaheemYounus) March 17, 2020
Wrong: Most young patients with Coronavirus will be able to hold their breaths for much longer than 10 seconds. And many elderly without the virus won't be able to do it.
Reuters quoted Dr Thomas Nash, a New York-Presbyterian Hospital internist, pulmonologist and infectious disease specialist, saying that the breath test was "just made up."
Further, Stanford Health Care spokeswoman Lisa Kim also stated that the "dangerous" claim was not from Stanford Medicine and "contains inaccurate information."
The viral message mentions that by the time infected people reach the hospitals, they usually have 50% fibrosis.
Fibrosis is defined by the overgrowth, hardening, and/or scarring of various tissues and is attributed to excess deposition of extracellular matrix components including collagen. Fibrosis is the end result of chronic inflammatory reactions induced by a variety of stimuli including persistent infections, autoimmune reactions, allergic responses, chemical insults, radiation, and tissue injury.
"This information is extremely alarmist," CNN quoted Dr Robert Legare Atmar, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor College of Medicine as saying.
"Fibrosis only develops in the minority of patients and 80 per cent of coronavirus patients experience only the mild symptoms of the disease, so this is incorrect," he added.
According to Atmar, the incubation period for coronavirus is two to 14 days. Symptoms usually show within five to six days of exposure, with the first week including cough, sore throat, fever, and muscle aches. He added that only the minority of patients will experience the second week of severe respiratory symptoms and may be at risk of fibrosis.
The viral post also makes the claim that consuming liquids will prevent you from catching the virus. This is inaccurate.
WHO maintains that "While staying hydrated by drinking water is important for overall health, it does not prevent coronavirus infection."
Q: If drinking water alleviates a sore throat, does this also protect against #2019nCoV infection?— World Health Organization Philippines (@WHOPhilippines) February 8, 2020
A: While staying hydrated by drinking water is important for overall health, it does not prevent coronavirus infection. pic.twitter.com/AWb1wK89Wj
The World Health Organization has recommended washing hands regularly, covering mouth when one cough or sneeze and staying at home if one feel unwell, to prevent COVID-19.
According to the organization, the following steps can be taken to reduce one's chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19:
(1) Regularly and thoroughly cleaning your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. This is because washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
(2) Maintain at least 1-metre distance between yourself and others. When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus.
(3) Avoid going to crowded places.
(4) Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
(5) Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze.
(6) Stay home and self-isolate even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover. Have someone bring you supplies. If you need to leave your house, wear a mask to avoid infecting others.
(7) If you have a fever, cough and difficulty in breathing, seek medical attention
The Logical Indian had earlier debunked similar claims surrounding COVID-19.
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