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A woman uses hand sanitizer after voting in the presidential primary election at the the Summit View Church of the Nazarene on March 10, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP) A woman uses hand sanitizer after voting in the presidential primary election at the the Summit View Church of the Nazarene on March 10, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP)

A woman uses hand sanitizer after voting in the presidential primary election at the the Summit View Church of the Nazarene on March 10, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP)

Daniel Funke
By Daniel Funke March 11, 2020

Drinking water does not prevent coronavirus infection

If Your Time is short

  • There is no evidence that drinking water helps to prevent coronavirus infection. Health officials and media outlets have debunked the claim.

  • To prevent infection, wash your hands with soap and water, cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and regular sanitize the surfaces in your home.

Drinking water is one of the primary ways to treat viral infections. But could it also prevent infections from the 2019 coronavirus?  Health experts say no.

One popular Facebook post prescribes "a few sips of water every 15 minutes" for people who want to avoid the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. The post includes a diagram of a lung and a long paragraph of medical advice attributed to "Japanese doctors treating COVID-19 cases."

"Even if the virus gets into your mouth … drinking water or other liquids will WASH them down through your esophagus and into the stomach," the photo reads. "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."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) It has been shared hundreds of times.

(Screenshot from Facebook)

A good rule of thumb is that if an online medical cure sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Such is the case with this Facebook post, which has been debunked by several other media outlets.

Featured Fact-check

While health experts recommend drinking water regularly to stay healthy, there is no evidence that sipping some every 15 minutes can help prevent coronavirus infection. 

The primary way the virus spreads is through close contact with infected people and respiratory droplets, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When someone with the coronavirus coughs or sneezes, their germs land on surfaces around them. The virus then infects people who touch those surfaces and then their eyes, nose and mouth.

So to prevent contracting the coronavirus, the CDC advises people to avoid touching their face as much as possible. Other ways to prevent infection include washing your hands with soap and water, covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and regularly sanitizing the surfaces in your home or at your workstation. As of now, there is no specific treatment for the virus.

In a tweet published Feb. 7, the World Health Organization in the Philippines said it does not advise people to drink water as a way to avoid coronavirus infection.

As of March 11, the 2019 coronavirus had infected more than 118,000 people in 113 countries. In the United States, there have been 938 confirmed cases and 31 deaths.

The Facebook post is inaccurate. We rate it False.

Our Sources

Agence France-Presse, "Health experts say drinking water every 15 minutes does not prevent coronavirus infection," March 9, 2020

Associated Press, "NOT REAL NEWS: An outbreak of virus-related misinformation," Feb. 28, 2020

BBC, "Coronavirus: The fake health advice you should ignore," March 8, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Common Cold, accessed March 10, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the U.S., March 11, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Prevention & Treatment, accessed March 10, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Get the Facts: Drinking Water and Intake, accessed March 10, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, How COVID-19 Spreads, accessed March 10, 2020

Facebook post, March 6, 2020

The Guardian, "If a medical cure looks too good to be true, it probably is," June 1, 2013

The Guardian, "US coronavirus death toll rises to 31 as official warns 'things will get worse,'" March 11, 2020

PolitiFact, "Stop sharing myths about preventing the coronavirus. Here are 4 real ways to protect yourself," March 5, 2020

The Sun, "MYTH BUSTER Coronavirus prevention myths: From taking Vitamin C to drinking water every 15 minutes," March 4, 2020

Tweet from the World Health Organization Philippines, Feb. 7, 2020

USA Today, "Coronavirus updates: US death toll rises to 27; Italy paralyzed; US markets rise; Life Care Center under siege," March 10, 2020

World Health Organization, Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 51, March 11, 2020

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Drinking water does not prevent coronavirus infection

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