A viral email chain says people can self-test for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) by simply holding their breath for 10 seconds. According to the email, the test came directly from Stanford University. If you’re able to hold your breath for 10 seconds without coughing, you’re virus-free.

The instructions read: “Take a deep breath and hold your breath for more than 10 seconds. If you complete it successfully without coughing, without discomfort, stiffness or tightness, etc., it proves there is no Fibrosis in the lungs, basically indicates no infection.”  

The COVID-19 “self-test”

Another similar email told people that they should “self-check” every morning for the virus. According to Fast Company, this second email instructed recipients to take a few sips of water every 15 minutes upon waking to wash any possible traces of virus into your stomach. “Once there, your stomach acid will kill all the virus,” the email reads.

Both methods seem easy enough, right? Yeah, no. It turns out these email chains are a scam and neither of them originated from Stanford.

Stanford University responded to the misinformation in a tweet, saying: “Misinformation about COVID-19 symptoms and treatment falsely attributed to Stanford is circulating on social media and in email forwards. It is not from Stanford. Official information from Stanford is available at healthalerts.stanford.edu.”

How to avoid scams

Information overload is glaringly abundant during this current pandemic, as a cacophony of news and advice circulates on the internet. But remember, if a claim doesn’t come directly from (or link to) the source it’s citing, the claim is likely false.

The bottom line? Stay alert, stay home, dodge misinformation and keep washing your hands.