New York's poison control centres have seen an increase in calls this weekend after Trump made bizarre claims about injecting disinfectant during his coronavirus briefing on Thursday.

According to NBC, calls specifically relating to exposure of household chemicals more than doubled after the president's remarks, which he now claims were sarcastic, "just to see what would happen".

Well Trump will be pleased to know that "what happened" was mass confusion and a dangerous misunderstanding of his comments.

Data shows that in the 18 hours following Trump's comments, New York City received 30 calls about exposure to such chemicals, with nine specifically about Lysol, 10 about bleach and 11 about other household cleaners.

During the same time period last year, the poison control centres received just 13 calls, with only two relating to bleach.

After Trump's announcement, the manufacturer of Dettol and Lysol – two of the most common products in this category – was forced to release a statement telling people that "under no circumstances" should their bleach products be ingested.

It doesn't appear that any of the callers actually ingested bleach in an effort to cure coronavirus, but Trump's unfounded medical claims have a history of endangering people.

Last month a couple was hospitalised after ingesting a product intended to clean fish tanks because it contained chloroquine, an ingredient used to treat malaria, which Trump had touted as a "miracle cure" without any evidence. The incident resulted in the death of the man, with his wife saying they swallowed the chemical after seeing the president discuss it.

It appears that confusion about disinfectants may have predated Trump's remarks. The CDC reported a 20 per cent increase in calls related to such products between January and March.

Given how much misinformation is already out there, and people are struggling to discern what is accurate medical information, it can't be too much to ask that the president refrain from making such damaging – and potentially fatal – claims.

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