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Fact-check: Holding breath for 10 sec to test Coronavirus? Here is the truth

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As the COVID-19 outbreak is taking the world into a time of health emergency, many claims are circulating on social media sites. These claims are often found to be unverified. With these fake forwards, there is another danger on the rise, that is misinformation or the fake news.

From the past few weeks, a picture with the heading ‘Simple self-detection and prevention of COVID-19’ making rounds on social media. The content refers to two claims, one is of self-monitoring process, in case there is an infection and later is a process of curing the infection.

The claim of self-detection

The self-monitoring method claims that holding breath for 10 seconds without any difficulty can assure that the person has no infection. “Take a deep breath in a fresh air environment and hold your breath for more than 10 seconds. If you can do this successfully without coughing and without difficulty, without anxiety or chest tightness it shows that you do not have fibrosis and generally indicate no infection,” it claims.

The claim of precaution

It claims that drinking water every 15 minutes can cure the infection, also backs it with the reason that drinking the water will wash the virus down the esophagus into the stomach. The full-text fo the precaution reads, “Everyone should make sure the mouth and throat are always moist. Drink some water every 15 minutes. Why not? Even if the virus gets into your mouth, drinking water or other fluids will help wash it down the esophagus into the stomach. When the virus is in the stomach the hydrochloric acid in your stomach will kill the germs.”

The viral picture
The viral picture


As per the texts say, all these claims are made by a Japanese doctor, but there is no mention of any doctors’ name in the picture is the first thing to doubt on. Moreover, the claim of self-monitoring method of the infection by holding breath for 10 seconds is also doubtful on the fact that there is already a diagnosing method for the infection which is scientifically proven, whereas there is no accurate scientific evidence the aforesaid claim. The World Health Organisation also rubbished the claim. The statement of WHO reads,”The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry cough, tiredness and fever. Some people may develop more severe forms of the disease, such as pneumonia. The best way to confirm if you have  the virus producing COVID-19 disease is with a laboratory test.  You cannot confirm it with this breathing exercise, which can even be dangerous.” Therefore the claim of testing the infection while holding breath is indeed misleading.

The claim of prevention by drinking water every 15 minutes is also questionable. Professor Trudie Lang at the University of Oxford told BBC News that there is “no biological mechanism” that would brace the idea that you can wash a respiratory virus down into your stomach and kill it. It is clear from the Professor’s words that there is nothing true about it. Therefore this claim is also misleading.

Claims:  1. Holding breath for 10 seconds to test coronavirus infection.  2. Drinking water every 15 minutes washes virus from throat and kills in stomach.

Claims made by: Social Media posts

Result: Misleading

Written by Mahmodul Hassan

Mahmodul Hassan writes on Human rights, Politics, and Social Justice. The author can be contacted at:

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