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PM’s suggestion of salt water gargle as a Covid-19 remedy is misleading

Prime Minister Oli addresses the Indradaha Tourism Festival at Dahachok in Chandragiri municipality on February 21. Photo: YouTube channel of News Agency Nepal

Addressing the 5th Indradaha Tourism Festival at Dahachok in the Kathmandu valley on February 21, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli repeated an already debunked claim about a home remedy for Covid-19.

Oli repeated the claim, which is among several claims that were flagged as false by the World Health Organisation’s Myth Busters series in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. About a year ago, many international fact-checkers had investigated and debunked a common claim that gargling with saline water or rinsing the nose with the solution could prevent one from the coronavirus infection. While repeating the claim on February 21, the prime minister said some people had earlier made fun of him when he had suggested sal twater gargle as a remedy.

Oli said: “…Covid keeps coming and going. It gets inside the nose and then you just clean it and it will vamoose. Even if it somehow manages to get inside your throat, just gargle with warm salt water, and it will be gone.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) clearly states on its website: “Fact: Rinsing your nose with saline does NOT prevent COVID-19.” In its Myth Busters series, the WHO says there is no evidence to suggest rinsing the nose with saline protects people from the infection. While it acknowledges that there is limited evidence that rinsing the nose with saline solution does help in common cold recovery, but it has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.

WebMD, a US-based digital platform on health news and information, has also said there is no evidence that rinsing with saline solution eliminates the new coronavirus.

Various research works have shown gargling with salt water is an effective home remedy for a sore throat. For this reason, some researchers have claimed that saline nasal irrigation and gargling should be considered as a treatment option for Covid-19.

According to the BBC, researchers at the University of Edinburgh in the UK are researching whether rinsing with saline water can prevent Covid-19. South Asia Check found no official medical advice on the use of salt water to prevent the infection. Therefore, Oli’s suggestion that rinsing the nose and gargling with salt water eliminates Covid-19 is misleading.

This article first appeared on South Asia Check.

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