KINGSTON, Jamaica – For decades, Caribbean people have invented their own home-made remedies and recipes to prevent or alleviate a variety of illnesses. And with the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) to every corner of the world, the same traditions are being done. From eating garlic to using coconut oil, there has been an abundance of rumors and “health practices” making the rounds on social media.
What Doesn’t Work
Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.
Rinsing Your Nose With Saline
There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the coronavirus. 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.
Spraying Alcohol or Bleach All Over One’s Self
The WHO warns that spraying alcohol or chlorine substances like bleach all over your body cannot kill the virus if you already have it. In fact, these substances may do more harm than good. Alcohol and chlorine (bleach) can be used for disinfecting surfaces under the appropriate recommendations.
Drinking Water to Wash the Virus Out
You may receive an abundance of Whatsapp chain messages from “health experts” that suggest if the virus enters the mouth, drinking water or other liquids will wash it down through the oesophagus into the stomach, where stomach acids will kill the virus. This is entirely false. Of course, drinking water regularly is a great health practice, but it cannot kill the virus if you already have it.
Drinking Alcoholic Beverages
There is no alcoholic beverage or type of liquor you can drink that will prevent you from getting the coronavirus. WHO warns that alcohol should be consumed in moderation and people who aren’t drinkers should not start drinking, with hopes of preventing COVID-19. In fact, alcohol lowers your immunity and could make you more vulnerable to getting the virus if you overconsume.
Rubbing Your Skin With Coconut Oil
One health official in the Philippines recently suggested that coconut oil was being looked into as a possible cure for the virus. And while coconut oil has been tested and proven to kill some bacteria, it is still not a treatment or cure for COVID-19.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. The new coronavirus is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.
However, if you are hospitalised for COVID-19 you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible. To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus.
What Does Work
Washing Your Hands Often
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises people to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. This will decrease the likelihood of your getting the virus or transmitting it to others.
J Wray And Nephew White Rum (Not For Drinking)
If soap and water are not readily available, the CDC suggests using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. But since hand sanitizers have been running low in stock since the global spread of COVID-19, you can also use alcoholic beverages with the same amount of alcohol level as a sanitizer.
Jamaica’s unofficial alcoholic beverage, the J Wray and Nephew White Rum contains 63% alcohol, just above the requirement by the CDC. DO NOT DRINK THE RUM, but use it as a sanitizer. It is best if it also not diluted by water or other liquids. It can also be used to disinfect surfaces if other solutions are not available.
Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick. WHO suggests maintaining at least three (3) feet apart from others, especially when out in public.
As the coronavirus spread to virtually every country, the best thing you can do for yourself and others is to stay indoors. For those that absolutely must go outside, observe the other practises in order to protect yourself and your community.