Our new Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba gave a tip to Malaysians on preventing COVID-19 during an interview on TV1.
He claims that the novel coronavirus “doesn’t like high temperatures” and that it lives in the lower respiratory tract. By drinking warm water, the virus will be flushed down into the digestive system, before it can enter the lungs. When the virus reaches the stomach, it will be killed by stomach acid “and the virus will lose”.
It sounds suspiciously like the many forwarded Whatsapp chain-messages that make inaccurate claims, such as “the virus will die in hot weather so stand in the sun for 15 minutes”.
It’s a true concern if our Health Minister is repeating advice from Whatsapp chain-messages. Instead, the World Health Organization has firmly reiterated that drinking water does not prevent the coronavirus infection, and neither does “hot weather”.
The false information purported on national TV from a position of authority as Health Minister is detrimental to the fight against COVID-19.
Already the country is struggling to keep people in line with the Movement Control Order. Patients are lying about their possible contact with an infected person. And now, should people feel recklessly relieved because the virus can be killed with warm water? What if these are the same people who do not have access to other sources of information and take it as truth?
Former Bersih chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan requested the return of Dr Adham’s predecessor, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, who had been praised for the way he handled the outbreak during its initial phase.
Even comedian Dr Jason Leong (who actually is a real doctor) took to Facebook to share his concerns, claiming that Dr Adham’s statement is so incredibly wrong a comedian in his bedroom has to debunk a Health Minister’s statement on national TV.
Basically, stop thinking that the coronavirus can be killed by warm water, salt water, or lemon water. While hydration is important, these “miracle cures” drastically take away from the urgency and severity of the situation.
Healthcare workers are risking their lives to save those infected with COVID-19 because there is no cure and no vaccine available yet.
The only thing we can do is active prevention like social distancing. So stay at home, wash your hands, and stay safe!
Anne is an advocate of sustainable living and the circular economy, and has managed to mum-nag the team into using reusable containers to tapau food. She is also a proud parent of 4 cats and 1 rabbit.