A doctor wearing a protective mask speaks on a phone as he leaves an isolation ward set up as a preventative measure following the coronavirus outbreak, at the Pakistan Institute Of Medical Sciences Hospital in Islamabad on January 31, 2020. (AFP / Aamir Qureshi)

Health experts refute false claims that drinking boiled garlic water cures novel coronavirus

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Claims that the novel coronavirus can be cured overnight if sufferers drink freshly boiled garlic water have been shared hundreds of times in multiple posts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The posts were shared after a new strain of novel coronavirus broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan and subsequently spread to more than 20 other countries. The claim is false; medical experts told AFP there was no evidence to support the theory about drinking garlic water; international health organisations do not recommend the remedy and have said there is no specific antiviral treatment for the new strain of the novel coronavirus.

This Facebook post has been shared at least 107 times since it was published on January 31, 2020.

The post’s caption reads: “Good News! Wuhan's CORONA VIRUS can be cured By one bowl of freshly boiled GARLIC water.

"Old chinese doctor has proven its efficacy. Many patients has also proven this to be effective . 8 cloves of chopped GARLICs and add 7cups of water then bring to boil.

"Eat and drink the boiled GARLIC water, overnight improvement and healing. Glad to share this? ctto

"Please like or Follow this page for MORE HELPFULL post? Thank u!?.”

The post also carries a text image that reads: “Tracking the Wuhan Coronavirus. Everything you need to read about the deadly pandemic; what it is. How it’s spreading, and how to stop it.”

Below is a screenshot of the misleading post:

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 490 and infected more than 24,000 people in China since its outbreak in Wuhan in early December 2019, AFP reported on February 5, 2020.

Posts with a similar claim were also published on Facebook here, here, here and here; on YouTube here, here, here, here, here and here; and on Twitter here, here, here, here and here.

The claim is false.

“There is no scientific evidence to substantiate the claim that garlic boiled water cures the novel coronavirus nor is there any proper medical research available on the subject,” Dr. Wasim Khawaja of the Pakistani Institute of Medical Sciences told AFP by phone on February 4, 2020.

“Such claims on social media that this vegetable or that herb cures the novel coronavirus are misleading and they may be harmful for people as they indulge in these homemade remedies and do not visit a hospital for testing and this may lead to the spread of the virus if anyone is actually infected by it,” he warned.

Khawaja urged all people with flu symptoms to get tested at a medical facility. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said they do not recommend any such cure or remedy to treat the novel coronavirus.

The WHO specifically stated here that measures like drinking traditional herbal teas are not effective and can even be harmful. The CDC also noted here that there is “no specific antiviral treatment recommended” for the coronavirus infection.