Coronavirus: US President Donald Trump suggests 'injecting disinfectant' to treat COVID-19, 'clean the lungs'

Being injected with disinfectant could be an effective treatment for COVID-19, US President Donald Trump has bizarrely claimed during a disastrous press conference from the White House.

Trump made the comment after Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Bill Bryan gave a presentation on research his team has carried out, which showed the coronavirus does not live as long in humidity or warmer temperatures.

After Bryan explained that the virus dies quickest in sunlight, Trump suggested there may be some way to "[bring] the light inside the body".

"So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous ultraviolet or just a very powerful light, and I think you said that hasn't been checked because of the testing," Trump said to Bryan.

"And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or some other way, and I think you said you're going to test that too.

"I would like you to speak to the medical doctors to see if there's any way that you can apply light and heat to cure [COVID-19]. Maybe you can, maybe you can't - I'm not a doctor, but I'm a person who has a good you know what," he said, pointing to his head.

Trump then went on to suggest that injecting disinfectant could "[do] a tremendous number on the lungs".

"I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute - one minute," he said. "And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning?

"As you see it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that."

Disinfectant is effective at killing pathogens like COVID-19, but can lead to poisoning or even death if it is ingested - a point New Zealand scientist Dr Michelle Dickinson was eager to get across after watching the briefing.

"You know how bleach and other home cleaning supplies and disinfectants have child-proof lids to protect children from drinking them?" she wrote on Twitter.

"This is because drinking them can kill them so it keeps our kids safe! This is also the reason why we don't inject disinfectants into people."

It's not the first time Trump has touted unproven treatments as potential cures for COVID-19. Earlier this month he said hydroxychloroquine could be a "game-changer", despite health authorities in the US warning against its use.

The comments capped off a calamitous coronavirus briefing for Trump, who also got in a spat with a Washington Post journalist who challenged him on the medical basis for the treatments he was suggesting.

"I'm the President, and you're fake news," he told Philip Rucker. "I know the guy, I see what he writes - he's a total faker."

The President also claimed that "numerous" world leaders had called him in the last 48 hours to say the US was "leading the way" with its COVID-19 response, despite the US recording the highest number of confirmed cases (887,000) and deaths (50,000) from COVID-19 in the world.