UGANDA: Experts Warn Against Steam Inhalation in Covid-19 Treatment

Ugandans have resorted to steaming like Tanzanians. In this picture is a man who enters into a steam inhalation booth installed by Tanzanian herbalist Msafiri Mjema in Dar es Salaam, on May 22, 2020. AFP/File

The recent resurgence in COVID-19 infection has forced many into desperate prevention and treatment interventions that doctors warn could be more harmful than the disease.

Dr Richard Idro, a paediatrician at Mulago Specialized National Referral Hospital says while steam inhalation where many are using herbs and hot water has become very popular, there is no way it can keep away the virus or even treat those that are already sick.

Idro who is discouraging use especially among children says this just after the World Health Organization (WHO) clarified in its Fact check initiative that steam inhalation does not cure COVID-19 and is not a safe treatment as it may cause serious burns.

For children, Idro said that steam inhalation can burn the inside lining of the airways causing swellings and more difficulty in breathing. No matter how hot steam is he says, it will not reach the virus present in the cells of an infected individual.

Dr Mukuzi Muhereza says while people can go on and continue steaming for other reasons, using it as a treatment for COVID-19 is useless. It should be noted that COVID-19 being a viral infection, there’s no treatment but rather doctors manage symptoms to allow somebody’s immune system to fight off the disease.

According to Ministry of Health guidelines on home-based care guidance on community prescription, other than engaging in untested practices, they say a person who tests positive should use zinc tablets once daily for 14 days and Vitamin D once daily.

“If one has a mild cough with no breathing complications like shortness of breath, take oral azithromycin once daily for five days or amoxicillin two times a day for seven days”.

These guidelines come when the positivity rate is shooting high now at. 18.3%. Also, asymptomatic cases now account for 50% of all the positive cases, rising from 80%.

According to results released by the Ministry yesterday which were the latest by press time, a total of 60,250 people have tested positive. Of these, 1,735 came out of 9494 samples tested on Friday.

Also, 15 people succumbed to the disease bringing the total number of deaths to 423 since the disease was first reported in the country in March 2020. 788 people are admitted in hospitals across the country, some requiring Intensive Care and High Dependency Unit services.


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