MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health warned against the practice of traditional steam inhalation—locally known as “tuob”—as alternative measure to ward off the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In a press briefing Thursday, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there is no scientific evidence that steam therapy kills SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
“Nais naming bigyang linaw na walang scientific evidence na nagpapatunay na steam inhalation or paglanghap ng steam na may asin, lemon at ipang sangkap ay nakakapatay ng virus na nagiging sanhi ng COVID-19,” Vergeire said, adding the department does not recommend “tuob” as preventive or curative measure.
(We want to clarify that there is no scientific evidence proving that steam inhalation or inhaling steam with boiled water infused with salt, lemon and other ingredients can kill the virus that causes COVID-19.)
She said the World Health Organization and the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention have denied steam inhalation is a cure for the coronavirus.
The health official also stressed that the practice may do more harm than relief.
“May posibilidad pa na mapasama ang virus sa singaw na maaaring pagmulan ng lalong pagkalat ng sakit. Ang steam inhalation din po ay nagpaparami ng secretions sa ilong na posibleng makahawa ng sakit sa pamamagitan ng pagbahing or pag-ubo ng individual,” Vergeire said.
(There is a possibility that the virus may be included in the aerosolization, which can result in further spread of the disease. Steam inhalation will also increase secretions in nose, which can lead to spread of the illness by sneezing or coughing.)
This may also result in scalding injuries, she added.
The statement came after the provincial government of Cebu issued a memorandum urging its employees to practice “tuob” twice a day at their work stations.
Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has been under hot water for publicly shaming a doctor who had criticized the local directive of relying on steam inhalation to fight COVID-19.
Vergeire stressed that wearing face masks, frequent handwashing, maintaining physical distancing and observing proper cough etiquette are still the best preventive measures against the severe respiratory illness.
COVID-19 has so far sickened 33,069 people in the Philippines, with 1,212 deaths.
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