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More Americans call poison control centres after Trump touts disinfectant as Covid-19 'treatment'

29 April 2020 - 06:59 By Cebelihle Bhengu
US President Donald Trump says he 'can't imagine' why calls have spiked at poison control centres.
US President Donald Trump says he 'can't imagine' why calls have spiked at poison control centres.
Image: REUTERS/Leah Millis.

Poison control centres across the US have reported a spike in the number of calls they receive from citizens who want to know if they can inject themselves with disinfectant to treat coronavirus, following President Donald Trump's comment last week.

Here's what you need to know:

Thursday presser: disinfectant speculation 

Addressing a press conference from The White House on Thursday last week, Trump speculated that disinfectant could be effective in treating patients who have Covid-19. He instructed public healthcare officials during a conference to test the effectiveness of the chemicals in killing the virus by means of injection.

“And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute! And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or, almost a cleaning?” he asked.

Spike in calls made to control centres

Kansas City News on Monday reported that callers from various states, including Maryland, Tennessee, Michigan and Illinois, inquired about alcohol-based hand sanitiser, bleach and all-purpose cleaners

According to New York Daily News, 30 cases of possible exposure had been received by the Poison Control Centre, a subagency of the city’s health department. These were received within an 18 hour-period after Trump made the remarks.

The centre said none of the cases had reported a death or required hospitalisation, but noted a spike in the number of calls compared to the same period last year, when only 13 were made.

Shortly after Trump made the comments, he received wide-ranging criticism from healthcare experts and emergency services, who warned against administering chemicals into one's body.

Friday: Trump says he was being 'sarcastic'

In true Trump style, the president issued a statement on Friday denying that he was serious about the comments he made during the briefing.

“I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters, to see what would happen,” he was quotes as saying by Independent.

Tuesday: Trump denies consequences of his misinformation

On Tuesday morning, the BBC reported that Trump said he did not understand why control centres had received high call volumes after he made the comments about disinfectants on Thursday.

“I can't imagine why. I can't imagine that,” he said.

Asked if he took responsibility for the spike in calls, he replied: “No, I don't.”