coronavirus australia

Attempting to treat coronavirus from home could prove fatal. Courtesy: Getty Images

Australians attempting to self medicate against coronavirus have been urged to stop immediately as doing so could prove dangerous and even deadly, as misleading and unproven information continues to spread online.

NSW’s health department issued a warning to the public Tuesday evening after learning of apparent attempts to prevent or treat COVID-19 with medication.

“NSW Health is aware of people self-medicating to treat COVID-19 or using medications in an attempt to prevent COVID-19 disease,” the department said in a post to social media.

“There has already been one death reported overseas in someone who attempted to self-prescribe medicines. It’s dangerous to do this.”

A man in his 60s died and his wife remains unwell after the couple, from the US state of Arizona, ingested chloroquine phosphate, an ingredient used in fish tank cleaners.

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Donald Trump last week falsely claimed anti-malaria medication, chloroquine, had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for COVID-19.

It is unclear if the pair in the US took the medication specifically to fend off coronavirus but health authorities in the country believe that to be the case, following the president’s tweets.

“At this time, there are no vaccines that protect against COVID-19 and no medications with approved indications to treat COVID-19,” NSW Health said Tuesday night.

The department said it was constantly reviewing evidence and working with clinicians to provide the most appropriate care for people affected by COVID-19.

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Another COVID-19 death in Australia

It comes as a woman in her 70s became the seventh person to die from COVID-19 in NSW as the number of cases in the state soars past 900.

The woman, who was a passenger on the Ruby Princess cruise ship which docked in Sydney, died in hospital on Tuesday morning, taking the national toll to eight.

Also on Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced further restrictions on public gatherings, and ordered the closure of several more businesses.

He announced on Sunday night the closure of all non-essential services including pubs, restaurants and indoor sporting venues.