SINGAPORE - There is nothing wrong with drinking water, but the advice that is circulating on how to protect yourself against influenza is not from the Ministry of Health (MOH).
The advice, purportedly issued by the MOH because "the influenza this time is serious", tells people to constantly sip water as "once your membrane in your throat is dried, the virus will invade into your body within 10 mins".
There is no truth to this, said the MOH: "Keeping one's throat moist does not prevent influenza."
The message making the rounds on WhatsApp and other platforms claims that it is a notice to the public by the MOH that the current outbreak is serious.
The poor grammar alone would have indicated that the message is not from the ministry.
The message also says: "Till end of March, do not go to crowded places, wear mask as needed especially in train or public transportation."
It does not say why masks can be discarded from April.
When asked about the rest of the advice given in the fake message, the MOH gave the usual advice: that the flu is spread mainly by droplets through an infected person coughing and sneezing.
The spokesman said there tends to be more flu going around from May to June and November to January. She said: "It is therefore common to see an increase in influenza activity during these months, and we have seen an increase in influenza activity in the past four weeks."
To reduce the spread of the flu, people should:
- Wash their hands with soap before eating and after going to the toilet;
- Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue away into a bin immediately;
- Stay home from work or school when they are sick, and wear a mask if they are going out; and
- Avoid sharing food and drinks, eating utensils, toothbrushes or towels with those who display symptoms of influenza.
She also advised that young children, pregnant women and the elderly be vaccinated against the flu bug every year.
Common symptoms are fever, chills, headache, tiredness, sore throat, dry cough and runny or stuffy nose.