An article published today in The New Indian Express on “How to survive coronavirus” is not just rubbish but a public health hazard.
I have come across a few fake claims about cures for novel coronavirus infection (SARS-CoV-2) and disease (COVID-19) on WhatsApp. Even the AYUSH Ministry’s press release claiming that certain Unani medicines can help “treat” SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease is one such.
But I never expected a mainstream newspaper to carry such rubbish. The New Indian Express today carried an article on “How to survive coronavirus” in its magazine section. It is written by Nitin Manchanda. I suppose he is a columnist and hence the newspaper might not much freedom to edit the content. But the least it could have done is to not carry the piece. And no, The New Indian Express, the disclaimer that the “views expressed here are of the author” does not absolve your complicity.
It is not just a trash piece but dangerous misinformation that can do much public health damage. A responsible newspaper cannot be disseminating such fake claims.
WHO called it ‘infodemic’
In the February 2 Situation Report, the World Health Organization noted that the novel coronavirus outbreak and response has been “accompanied by a massive ‘infodemic’ – an over-abundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.”
The WHO was referring to social media platforms. The efforts it had taken have indeed borne fruits. We amount of misinformation on coronavirus on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms has reduced drastically.
Rubbish from the word go
The article starts thus: “The public health emergency of coronavirus can be combatted through astrology. Rahu is the cause of non-preventive illnesses. It is a planet of deception, where the doctors are unable to diagnose the root cause properly. A weak Saturn in horoscope makes it more prone to catch diseases in our body. To address and prevent the impact of Rahu, we need strongest planets to become dominant and overshadow its effects. Jupiter, the planet of wisdom, strengthens our liver and immune system. Whereas, Moon strengthens our lungs and Mars makes our bones strong and combats bad bacteria. Therefore, a strong position of Jupiter, Moon, and Mars is crucial in order to prevent coronavirus.
It then describes how different coloured foods help “intensify”, “multiply” and “empower” different planets and how a combination of four-coloured diet can “help subdue the pre-existent virus and also prevent it from occurring”.
There is mention of homeopathy too. “Water in a copper vessel, no poultry foods, and increased liquid intake along with homeopathic medicines will help fight coronavirus. ARS ALB.30- one dose daily for 27 days ( body functions depend on the moon’s orbit which takes 27 days to circle the earth).”
Of course, the advisory sent out by the AYUSH Ministry did mention about the homoeopathy medicine arsenic Alb 30 for the treatment of coronavirus.
The best part is reserved for the last. Under the subheading “Diet to prevent coronavirus” it lists out the food that need to be consumed at specific times of the day. It starts with drinking two glasses of water from a copper vessel at 7 in the morning and to end the day by eating “Bajra roti with ghiya or tinda sabzi and one carrot” at 9 pm. And to drink “methi dana water” before going to bed.