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Drinking water won’t prevent the coronavirus

February 28, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Everyone should ensure that their mouth and throat is moist and never dry. Take sips of water every 15 minutes because even if the virus gets into your mouth by drinking water or liquids, it will wash the virus down through your esophagus and into your stomach where your stomach acid will kill the virus. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Drinking water prevents dehydration, but it will not prevent anyone from catching the new coronavirus.

THE FACTS: Doctors caution against believing homegrown advice that social media users are spreading online as ways of preventing the virus. Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, said while medical professionals typically recommend keeping up fluid intake when sick, drinking more water will not keep anyone from catching the virus.

“We always caution anyone healthy and people who are sick to keep up fluid intake and keep mucus membranes moist,” he said. “It makes you feel better, there is no clear indication that it directly protects you against complications.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that the best way to prevent the virus is to avoid exposure to it. Specifically, the health agency recommends not touching your eyes, nose and mouth, to staying home if you are sick and covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing. 

More than 83,000 cases of the virus have been reported globally.


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: