Coronavirus fake news watch: No, Swiss hospitals are not overrun

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Coronavirus fake news watch: No, Swiss hospitals are not overrun
Dafalgan is a safer option for coronavirus patients than ibuprofen. Photo by GEORGES GOBET / AFP

When it comes to coronavirus advice, a lot of misinformation circulates on social media in Switzerland. What is and isn’t true?


Claim: Swiss hospitals are so overcrowded with coronavirus cases that Covid-19 patients are kept in beds in the hallways.

Many people in Switzerland received What's App messages over the weekend, allegedly from medical personnel at the Geneva University Hospital (HUG), University Hospital in Lausanne (CHUV), and other medical institutions saying there are not enough rooms for infected patients.

This is not true. “Currently, we are not overwhelmed”, Thierry Fumeaux, president of the Swiss Association of Intensive Care (SSMI) told RTS television.

He added that the potential problem may lie not “in the number of beds or the equipment, but in human resources”. To that end, “staff redistributions will probably have to be made, calling in people in training, people in retirement, people in the civil service, or possibly even army personnel”.

Jérôme Pugin, the head of HUG’s intensive care unit said that “today, on a scale of 1 to 10 in the gravity of the situation, we are at 2”.

And on Friday, Swiss president Simonetta Sommaruga said that "We are in a position to overcome this crisis, on the medical and the financial level", pointing out that "Switzerland is a rich country. We won't leave anyone behind".

"READ MORE: EXPLAINER: Can Switzerland handle the coronavirus pandemic?

Claim: Drinking a lot of hot water can prevent the spread of Covid-19 virus.

Social media messages encourage people to “drink all possible hot drinks because the virus will perish when exposed to heat”. 

This is negated by the fact that coronavirus is transmissible even in hot and humid climates, according to World Health Organisation (WHO).

By the same token, the messages urge people to eat raw garlic, ginger, and pepper to avoid catching the virus.

However, Didier Pittet, HUG’s head of the infectious diseases said that while “certain foods have health benefits, none can specifically fight against the virus”.

Claim: Certain medications can be harmful to coronavirus patients.

This one is actually true.

A lot of people are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (for example, ibuprofen) to lower the fever, but these medications could exacerbate lung infections.

Swiss health authorities urge patients to use paracetamol (Dafalgan, Tylenol) instead, to safely lower fever and pain.

For more info read here: 

READ MORE: UPDATE: What you need to know about coronavirus in Switzerland 




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