The number of people in India confirmed to have COVID-19 increased to 148 on Thursday, and many people with the option of doing so are continuing to practise social distancing. The health ministry has issued detailed guidelines on both social distancing and home quarantine (find the lists here.)
As worries increase, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey said on Thursday that standing in sunlight will help boost immunity and hence kill all kinds of viruses.
“The sun rays are the strongest between 11 am and 1 pm, so if we stand in the sunlight for 10-15 minutes, it will benefit us. Sunlight helps produce Vitamin D and also kills such virus, all sorts of virus are killed by sunlight. So people should sun bathe,” Choubey told the media outside Parliament in New Delhi.
While Chouney is right about Vitamin D and sunlight slowing down the growth of viruses, there is no proof yet that this can effectively kill the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told LA Times that while warmer weather does kill flu viruses and other coronviruses, we have not observed the novel coronavirus for long enough to know how it will behave.
“But we do not know what this virus is going to do. We’ve got to assume that it’s going to get worse, and worse and worse, Fauci said.
Early studies had suggested that the virus can survive on surfaces for a good nine days if not wiped away by disinfectants.
Last week, The Poynter Institute’s Politifact debunked a similar claim.
Choubey’s comments irked many who took to Twitter to criticise the politician, especially since he’s part of the health ministry which should be leading the fight.
Here’s what people said: