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BENGALURU (Reuters) – Doctors and scientists in India are warning of the dire hazards of trying to make medical oxygen at home as the country faces a shortage of the gas in its COVID-19 battle and various videos and tips on DIY methods do the rounds on social media.
Google Trends data showed searches for the phrase “how to make oxygen at home” peaked on April 25 as the crisis worsened, while YouTube videos detailing such processes have amassed hundreds of thousands of views. Videos showing how to make oxygen through methods like electrolysis are increasing in number.
“There is a scientifically proven method to produce medical oxygen through concentrators. Any other means to try making the gas at home involves many risks like chances of toxic gases being inhaled and explosions,” A Ravikumar, secretary of the Indian Medical Association for the southern state of Tamil Nadu, told Reuters.
Tarun Bhatnagar, a scientist at the ICMR-National Institute of Epidemiology in Chennai, called the attempts to make homemade oxygen “untested and unreliable methods”.
“Such an approach could even be deleterious if it leads to delays in seeking appropriate healthcare,” he told Reuters.
With India scrambling to find supplies of oxygen, many hospitals are turning away patients for lack of the gas. That has led to purported coronavirus cures circulating on social media, such as videos showing men inhaling steam from pressure cookers or kettles “to kill COVID infection”.
The World Health Organization says on the subject of coronavirus cures that scientists around the world are working to find and develop COVID-19 treatments and the agency does not recommend self-medication with any medicines as a prevention or cure.
The health ministry was not immediately available for comment.
The Indian government issued a public statement on Thursday dismissing as “misleading” a post circulating on social media that touted a homeopathic medicine which it claimed could immediately balance COVID-19 patients’ oxygen levels.
Graphic: Daily COVID-19 case load in India – https://graphics.reuters.com/HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/INDIA/jznpnokqbvl/chart.png
India reported a record 386,452 new cases in the past 24 hours, while deaths from COVID-19 jumped by 3,498, according to the Health Ministry.
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(Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru and Tanvi Mehta in Delhi; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Frances Kerry)