This false claim has been widely shared in Africa and even received an endorsement from Tanzanian President John Magufuli.
Steam your face and inhale neem tree leaves
There have been claims, mostly in Ghana, that steam therapy with neem can prevent COVID-19. What we know is that according to ayurvedic medicine experts, neem can assist in strengthening the immune system and prevent viral infections.
Neem is known to exhibit immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, antihyperglycaemic, anti-oxidant and anticarcinogenic properties. But, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has emphasised that there is no clinical evidence to suggest that steaming and inhaling with neem will prevent coronavirus.
People do inhale steam to deal with symptoms like a blocked nose, but there’s no evidence that it works as a treatment for coronavirus.
High-temperature steam-cleaning of surfaces in hospitals and elsewhere does destroy the coronavirus (as well as other types of viruses) says Prof Keith Neal, a specialist in the study of the spread of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham in the UK.
However, any attempt to inhale steam at this temperature, would be extremely dangerous and risk burns.
Your body’s cooling system would kick in to limit the rise in temperature, says Prof Neal, and your lungs would certainly be irreparably damaged before reaching a temperature high enough to deactivate the virus.
Also, water vapour rising from a boiling pan would be quickly cooled as it enters the body and not be hot enough to have an effect against the virus.
How do we know this?
BBC Reality Check spoke to Keith Neal, a specialist in the spread of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham in the UK, who confirmed there was no evidence inhaling hot steam cures Covid-19.
There are no specific treatments or vaccines for Covid-19. The World Health Organization, the UN’s health agency, says: “While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of mild Covid-19, there are no medicines that have been shown to prevent or cure the disease.”