Bruce Aylward, head of the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19 lowers his mask to drink water during a press conference about the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, in Beijing on February 24, 2020. (AFP / Matthew Knight)

Health experts say drinking water every 15 minutes does not prevent coronavirus infection

Multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter shared hundreds of times in the Philippines claim that doctors in Japan advise people to drink water every 15 minutes in order to prevent being infected by the novel coronavirus, COVD-19. The claim is misleading; the World Health Organization (WHO) says drinking water does not prevent novel coronavirus infection; Japan has not issued a health advisory listing drinking water as a prevention method for COVID-19.

The post was published here on Facebook on February 28, 2020. 

It has been shared more than 400 times. 

Below is a screenshot of the misleading Facebook post: 

Screenshot of Facebook post

The post reads, in part: “SERIOUS EXCELLENT ADVICE by Japanese doctors treating COVID-19 cases. Everyone should ensure your mouth & throat is moist, never DRY. Take a few sips of water every 15 mins at least. WHY? Even if the virus gets into your mouth...drinking water or other liquids will WASH them down through your oesophagus and into the stomach. Once there in tummy...your stomach ACID will kill all the virus. If you don't drink enough water more regularly...the virus can enter your windpipes and into the LUNGS. That's very dangerous.”

A similar claim was also shared here and here on Twitter.

The claim is misleading. 

This tweet on the WHO's official Twitter account states in part: “While staying hydrated by drinking water is important for overall health, it does not prevent coronavirus infection.”

Below is a screenshot of the WHO's tweet:

Screenshot of WHO post

This video produced by the WHO gives advice on how to prevent coronavirus infection.

The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, which oversees the country’s response to the novel coronavirus, has also not issued an advisory recommending frequent water intake. 

In the “About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” section of its website, the ministry lists washing hands frequently and covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing as “everyday preventive actions” to take. 

Below is a screenshot of the relevant section of the website: 

Screenshot of advisory

There is no mention of frequent water intake in any of the advisories it has issued. The advisories were published here, here, here and here on the ministry website. 

AFP Fact Check has previously debunked a similar misleading claim that keeping your throat moist can prevent coronavirus infections.