Doctors and health experts urged people not to drink or inject disinfectant on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested scientists should investigate inserting the cleaning agent into the body as a way to cure COVID-19.
"(This is an) absolutely dangerous crazy suggestion," said Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at Britain's University of East Anglia.
"You may not die of COVID-19 after injecting disinfectant, but only because you may already be dead from the injection."
Trump said at his daily media briefing on Thursday that scientists should explore whether inserting light or disinfectant into the bodies of people infected with the new coronavirus might help them clear the disease.
"Is there a way we can do something like that by injection, inside, or almost a cleaning?," he said. "It would be interesting to check that."
Parastou Donyai, director of pharmacy practice and a professor of social and cognitive pharmacy at the University of Reading, said Trump's comments were shocking and unscientific.
He said people worried about the new coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease it causes should seek help from a qualified doctor or pharmacist, and "not take unfounded and off-the-cuff comments as actual advice".
Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and a former U.S. labour secretary, added on Twitter: "Trump's briefings are actively endangering the public's health. Please don't drink disinfectant".
Reading's Donyai said previous comments by Trump had already been linked to people self-administering medicines or other products in ways that make them poisonous.
"We have already seen people mistakenly poisoning themselves by taking chloroquine when their hopes were raised by unscientific comments," he said.
Reckitt Benckiser, which manufacturers household disinfectants Dettol and Lysol, issued a statement on Friday warning people not to ingest or inject its products.