Under normal circumstances, few people would consider drinking bleach or taking a bath in cow dung. 

But these are not ordinary times and the spread of the feared Wuhan coronavirus has prompted an outpouring of strange, unscientific "cures" and fake news on social media. 

Teams of researchers around the world are frantically trying to find drugs or vaccines to treat Covid-19.

It’s thought that a vaccine is at least one year away and although an Australian team has claimed drugs used to treat HIV or malaria could beat the coronavirus, we’re some away from a genuine cure.

That hasn’t stopped fakers and scammers from circulating wild claims about how to beat the disease.

Lab technicians handle suspected COVID-19 samples as they carry out a diagnostic test for coronavirus (Image: PA)A Sense About Science guide to dealing with fake news and conspiracy theories

Tracey Brown, director of the charity Sense about Science, urged the public to look out for fake news and check everything they read online. 

She told The Herald: "With so many more of us online looking for information about the virus and ways to protect ourselves and others, we need to be aware that we are also creating an audience for people advertising false cures and giving out misinformation, and ask a few more questions about where information is coming from."

Here are some of the myths, fake news and false cures you need to avoid.

Drinking bleach

It’s not a good idea to ingest toxic chemicals when you’re in good health – and it certainly won’t help you when you’ve contracted the coronavirus. 

You should use bleach to clean surfaces because it can kill viruses including the one that causes Covid-19. 

But drinking it can cause serious damage to your insides. 

The danger is so serious that the University of Virgina’s Blue Ridge Poison Centre issued the following warning: “Drinking bleach will not prevent COVID-19 infections and could cause serious injury.”

Garlic can kill the coronavirus

In normal circumstances, it’s a good idea to eat garlic because it’s believed to have many health benefits. 

Sadly, it won’t help you to fight off the coronavirus. 

The World Health Organisation warned: “Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. 

“However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus."

Cow dung and urine will help you fight off Covid-19

In India, a group called the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (All India Hindu Union) recently held a party where they drank cow urine in a bid to defeat Covid-19. 

“We have been drinking cow urine for 21 years, we also take bath in cow dung. We have never felt the need to consume English medicine,” said Om Prakash.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence than drinking cow urine or taking a bath in faeces will cure the disease. 

"There is no scientific validation that any of these traditional medicines work to prevent coronavirus," virologist Debprasad Chattopadhyay told Germany's Deutsche Presse-Agentur news agency. 

"Cow dung and urine are waste material, there is no test that validates or proves they are good for us.”

Taking Ibuprofen will make you feel better

There is a lot of debate about whether it’s a good idea to take ibuprofen if you contract Covid-19 after French health minister Olivier Veran suggested that anti-inflammatory drugs could worsen the infection.

Yesterday Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, advised people to avoid ibuprofen.

Speaking at the Health Select Committee, Sir Patrick told MPs: “The sensible thing to do would be to say don’t take it at the moment, take something else – paracetamol or something.”

His advice contradicts a statement from Public Health England, which said there is not enough information on ibuprofen use and Covid-19 to advise people to stop using ibuprofen.

PHE said there was no published scientific evidence that ibuprofen increases the risk of catching Covid-19 or makes the illness worse.

“Most people with Covid-19 will have a mild illness and some people may need to take medicines, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to help with raised temperature, headache and other pains; always follow the instructions on the label if you do take these medicines and do not exceed the stated dose,” it said. 

Salt water and vinegar will cure you of Covid-19

Lab technicians handle suspected COVID-19 samples as they carry out a diagnostic test for coronavirus (Image: PA)If you receive this image on WhatsApp, you're best off ignoring it

On WhatsApp, a badly written passage of text is circulating which there’s a very easy way to rid yourself of the coronavirus. 

It claimed: “Coronavirus before it reaches the lungs remains in the throat of four days and at this time the person begins to cough and have throat pains. 

“If he drinks water a lot and gargling with salt water and salt and vinegar eliminates the virus. Spread this information because you can save someone with this information.”

Sadly, this will not beat the virus. Bad grammar tends to accompany bad science.

The World Health Organisation wrote: “There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus.

“There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.”

Zinc can prevent you from catching the virus

A false theory circulating online claims the use of zinc lozenges can “block” coronavirus from spreading in the respiratory system.

However, according to Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, that claim is “absolute garbage”.

“It’s classic over-interpretation,” he said. “This would cure much – but not all –  of the common cold if it were true.”

Dr Clarke added, however, that zinc can help by boosting your immune system, therefore making you more resilient overall.