Philippines DOH warns public against “steam inhalation” to prevent COVID-19

June 29, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) in the Philippines recently cautioned against the practice of “tuob” or steam inhalation with salt, lemon, and other ingredients,to prevent COVID-19 infection. Steam inhalation purportedly kills SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the deadly coronavirus disease.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there is no scientific evidence proving that inhalation of steam provided protective benefits against COVID-19. “The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have denied that steam inhalation can treat COVID-19,” Vergeire said.Local medical societies also do not recommend steam inhalation as a curative or preventive measure.

“The virus may get into the steam which may cause diseases. It also increases nasal secretions that can be spread through coughing or sneezing.”

The DOH reiterated that wearing face masks, frequent and proper handwashing, observing physical distancing, and practicing proper cough etiquette remain the best measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Vergeire also notedthat use of ultraviolet (UV) devices “cannot replace manual cleaning, wiping or removal of contaminants on environmental surfaces” in the fight against COVID-19. The WHO has recommended the use of such devices for disinfection purposes in formal healthcare settings however, there is no scientific evidence yet which proves their effectiveness elsewhere.

Vergeire warned that such devices sold cheaply on the market may cause harm to the eyes, skin irritation, skin burns and increased skin cancer risk.


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