WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump said on Friday (April 24) that he was being sarcastic when he raised the possibility of using disinfectant inside people's bodies to fight the coronavirus.
Trump said at a Thursday news briefing that scientists should explore whether inserting light or disinfectant into the bodies of coronavirus patients might help treat the respiratory illness caused by the virus.
At an Oval Office event on Friday, Trump sought to walk back those comments while also seeming to continue to advance his theory that disinfectants and sunlight might ultimately help within the body.
"I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen," he told journalists on Friday.
His remarks on Thursday, directed at doctors in the room on his coronavirus task force, did not come across as sarcasm.
Pressed repeatedly about the issue on Friday, Trump said he was not encouraging people to ingest disinfectant.
Health professionals have been encouraging people for some time to wash their hands thoroughly with soap or to use hand sanitiser to help stop the spread of the virus.
"I do think that disinfectant on the hands could have a very good effect," he said. "Sun and heat, and humidity wipe it out. And this is from tests - they've been doing these tests for ... a number of months. And the result - so then I said, 'Well, how do we do it inside the body or even outside the body with the hands and disinfectant I think would work.'"
Trump's initial comments about the issue raised concerns that anxious people might poison themselves to try to fight the virus, prompting an international chorus of doctors and health experts to urge people not to drink or inject disinfectant.