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Folk cures and charms in times of fever and contagion

From carrying a potato to ward off TB to sending a child under a donkey to cure whooping cough, superstition and 'miracle' cures were common during previous deadly outbreaks, writes Gabrielle Monaghan

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Cures and remedies: Ointments and salves made from seaweed or local plants were often used

Cures and remedies: Ointments and salves made from seaweed or local plants were often used

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Before the vaccine: In Co Waterford, it was believed that eating the food left behind by a ferret would cure a whooping-cough

Before the vaccine: In Co Waterford, it was believed that eating the food left behind by a ferret would cure a whooping-cough

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Cures and remedies: Ointments and salves made from seaweed or local plants were often used

As the cases of Covid-19 began to mount in Ireland, so too did the number of fake "cures" spread through WhatsApp and other social media.

The coronavirus could apparently be staved off by drinking hot water with lemon and bread soda, by leaving half an onion in each room or by sipping warm water every 15 minutes so the virus could be killed by stomach acid. Indeed, the World Health Organisation has said that it is not only fighting an epidemic but also an "infodemic". Last month, Donald Trump even got in on the act, speculating in a televised press briefing that disinfectant could be used as a treatment for Covid-19.

During the epidemics that raged across Ireland over the centuries, quacks also preyed upon the public by flogging miracle-promising products, such as cholera remedies during the outbreak of 1832.