Health Minister Dr Adham Baba appeared on RTM on Thursday night, 19 March, to speak about the COVID-19 situation in the country
During the programme, Dr Adham made a claim, albeit a misleading one, that drinking warm water can kill the virus that causes COVID-19 because the virus "doesn't like heat".
The newly-appointed Health Minister then went on to demonstrate the so-called science.
According to him, if people keep their mouths and throats constantly moist by drinking water, this will help wash the virus down the oesophagus (food pipe) and be killed by our stomach acid.
Soon after, a clip from the programme went viral after a Malaysian netizen uploaded it on Twitter to alert others about the misleading claim regarding a pandemic that has killed more than 10,000 people.
The clip was then retweeted by lawyer Syahredzan Johan, who commented on the Health Minister's advice, saying "if this is correct, I think this is a great life hack that everyone should know."
While drinking water is good, it won't kill the COVID-19 virus
It's a myth that originated from viral social media posts and has been debunked by multiple experts.
"We always caution anyone healthy and people who are sick to keep up fluid intake and keep mucus membranes moist," Dr William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University told the Associated Press back in February.
"It makes you feel better, there is no clear indication that it directly protects you against complications."
According to Dr Schaffner, while medical professionals typically recommend keeping up fluid intake when sick, drinking more water will not keep anyone from catching the virus.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) also debunked it on 7 February, saying that "while staying hydrated by drinking water is important for overall health, it does not prevent coronavirus infection."
Meanwhile, weighing in on Dr Adham Baba's claim on RTM, General Surgeon Dr Amalina Bakri said that regardless of where you hear this advice on drinking water, even if it was on national TV, it is a myth
The United Kingdom-based Surgeon added that "it is not evidence-based".
"The correct tips are to look after hygiene, wash hands, avoid touching the face, practice cough etiquette, staying at home, and maintain social distancing of at least one metre," she said.
"Just to be clear, heat at about 60 degrees celsius can inactivate the virus outside the body, but once it is inside, the hot water will not weaken the virus."
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