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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke March 13, 2020

Don’t hold your breath. This isn’t a credible way to test for coronavirus

If Your Time is short

Holding your breath for 10 seconds isn’t a way to test that you don’t have COVID-19.


Coronavirus test kits may be in short supply, but advice being shared on social media — including by actress Debra Messing — wrongly claims we can check ourselves for COVID-19. 

"How can one know if a person is infected?" an image with the advice asks. "By the time he has a fever and/or a cough and goes to the lung hospital, the patient may have 50% fibrosis, and then it’s too late! Taiwanese experts provide simple self-monitoring that we can do every morning: Take a deep breath 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."

This 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.) 

"This has been circulating widely, but sadly is not true," Richard Watanabe, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, told PolitiFact in an email. "The only way to test for COVID-19 right now is via laboratory testing."

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Loren Rauch, an ER doctor in Los Angeles, told Mother Jones that a breath test can check "if you are anxious or have respiratory compromise," but not COVID-19.

Robert Legar Atmar, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor College of Medicine, told the Associated Press that such a breath test could be helpful in identifying whether someone has a "more serious lung disease." But, he said, it won’t identify people who are infected and have mild to no symptoms. 

We rate this Facebook post False. 


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Don’t hold your breath. This isn’t a credible way to test for coronavirus

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