Coronavirus: Does drinking tea help?

By Reality Check team - BBC News
Man drinking tea

With India now in a 21-day lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, there's been plenty of advice shared on how to prevent or cure the disease.

BBC News has been fact-checking some of the most prominent examples.

Drinking tea

"Who would have known that a simple cup of tea would be the solution to this virus."

This false claim - shared on social media - refers to the Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, who was hailed a hero for his efforts to raise the alarm about the virus early on in Wuhan, and who later died of the disease.

It claims that in his case files, he had documented evidence that substances commonly found in tea can decrease the impact of the virus - these are known as methylxanthines.

And that hospitals in China started giving Covid-19 patients tea three times a day.

It's true that methylxanthines are found in tea, as well as in coffee and chocolate.

But there's no evidence Dr Li Wenliang was researching their effect - he was an eye specialist, rather than an expert on viruses. Or that hospitals in China were specifically treating Covid-19 by giving patients tea.

News reports in China in February also picked up on the claim that tea could be used to stop the virus, but said it was not true.

A cow-urine drinking event in India

Cow urine and dung

There is a long tradition in India of promoting cow urine and dung as traditional remedies for various diseases.

And an MP from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Suman Haripriya, has suggested they could be used against the coronavirus.

"Cow dung has many benefits. I think it can kill the coronavirus. Cow urine can also be useful.", Source: Suman Haripriya, Source description: BJP assembly member, Image: BJP MLA Suman Haripriya

There have been previous studies into the potential anti-bacterial properties of cow urine.

And a Hindu nationalist group has held a cow-urine drinking event in the Indian capital, Delhi, to promote its use for tackling the virus.

But Dr Shailendra Saxena, of the Indian Virological Society, told BBC News: "There is no medical evidence to show that cow urine has anti-viral characteristics.

"Moreover, using cow-dung could prove counter-productive as bovine faecal matter could contain a coronavirus which might replicate in humans."

Alcohol-free hand sanitiser

Alcohol-free 'cowpathy' hand sanitizers on Amazon

As well as cow-dung soap, Cowpathy has been selling alcohol-free hand sanitiser with "distilled cow urine obtained from indigenous cows" online since 2018.

Currently out of stock, the product page says: "Due to high demand, we are currently limiting the purchase quantity per customer for this product to maximize access for our customers."

Meanwhile, Ramdev, a yoga guru on a popular Hindi news channel, has suggested making herbal hand sanitisers at home.

He also said consuming a mixture of the ayurvedic herb giloy, turmeric and basil leaves could help prevent coronavirus.

Alcohol-free 'cowpathy' hand sanitizers on Amazon

But the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say it is important to use alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

And Prof Sally Bloomfield, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says any homemade hand sanitiser will be ineffective as even vodka contains only 40% alcohol.

Vegetarianism

Anil Vij, the Health Minister of Haryana state, in northern India, has made an appeal for people not to eat meat.

"Be vegetarian," he tweeted.

"Do not create viruses like coronavirus, which pose a danger to humanity, by having [meat of] different kinds of animals."

A Hindu nationalist group, meanwhile, claimed the coronavirus had come to punish meat-eaters.

PIB Fact-check

But after the ministry that oversees livestock production said it had led to a fall in the sales of eggs and chicken, the Indian government's fact-checking service posted a rebuttal of the claim.

And government minister Giriraj Singh said the Indian food regulator had found no evidence for it.

"Coronavirus is not spread by eating fish, chicken, and eggs. Eggs are your important source of protein apart from chicken and fish so eat it without any fear.", Source: Giriraj Singh, Source description: Indian Union Minister, Image:

'Anti-coronavirus' mattress

The coronavirus pandemic has also led some businesses to sell products they claim can fight the virus.

A 15,000-rupee (£165) "anti-coronavirus" mattress was as advertised virus-resistant, for example.

Arihant Mattresses managing director Amar Parekh told BBC News: "It is anti-fungal, anti-allergic, dustproof and waterproof, so nothing can go inside it."

But the advertisement had now been removed

"I do not want to cause harm to anyone," he said.

"We did not do it after there was a backlash."

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