DOH debunks claims bananas can prevent COVID-19 infection

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 18) — Most of you have probably seen the viral video that claims eating bananas can keep you safe from the coronavirus pandemic. Some may have fallen for it, including a high-ranking government official.

But the Health Department was quick to dismiss this claim.

Health spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire on Wednesday said there is no science to back this up.

"Ang saging, sinasabi nila it can help prevent COVID-19. Wala pang ebidensya, wala pang masusing pag-aaral na makapagbibibgay ng hard science o ebidensya para sabihin na bananas will prevent the transmission of COVID-19 or prevent a person from having COVID-19," she said during the Laging Handa briefing.

[Translation: They're saying bananas can prevent COVID-19. There is no evidence based on hard science that this will prevent a person from contracting it or that bananas will stop the transmission of the virus.]

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday said he believed what he saw on the internet about bananas fighting off viruses, leading him to eat tons of them.

"I read a few things about how to destroy or contain the virus," Panelo said during a media briefing. "You know, even without me knowing it, I’ve been fond of bananas. Then I saw on the internet that bananas are a good way to fight [viruses]. So here I am, eating bananas every day."

Vergeire said bananas have health benefits, but people shouldn't eat it to feel protected from COVID-19.

"Ang saging ay mabuti sa katawan, so hindi naman ipagbabawal na kainin nila. Huwag lang nila iisipin na hindi sila magkakaroon ng sakit na ito dahil kumain sila ng saging," she said.


(Translation: Banana is good for the body, so they're not prohibited from eating them. Just don't think they won't contract the virus by eating bananas.)

To prevent infection, authorities are urging people to practice frequent hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds, cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid close contact with those who show respiratory symptoms. During an outbreak, stay home as much as possible and limit contact with people.

The disease is spread through small droplets from the nose or mouth when people infected with the virus cough or sneeze, according to medical experts.