Sri Lankan holy man’s ‘miracle’ potion for Covid turns sour

Minister who publicly drank syrup touted as coronavirus cure tests positive

COLOMBO (AFP) : A self-styled Sri Lankan holy man’s supposed miracle potion to prevent Covid-19 turned sour on Tuesday (Jan 18) after a minister who publicly drank it was hospitalised with the virus.

Thousands had defied public gathering restrictions to swamp a village in central Sri Lanka last month to get the syrup made by Dhammika Bandara.

Women and Child Development Minister Piyal Nishantha de Silva was among several politicians who consumed the concoction, but parliamentary officials said he had since tested positive for the coronavirus and was taken to a treatment centre.

People queue for a sample of the syrup made by self-styled holy man Dhammika Bandara, who claimed it could prevent coronavirus. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Family members of another politician, who hailed from Bandara’s village, had also been infected despite taking the syrup.

Pro-government media gave widespread publicity to Bandara, who claimed the formula was revealed to him by Kali, a Hindu goddess of death and destruction of evil.

The only ingredients he acknowledged were honey and nutmeg. The government has scrambled to distance itself from Bandara, whose preparation was approved as a food supplement by the official indigenous medicine unit.

Residents wait in a line to get tested for the coronavirus in Colombo in early January. There has been a resurgence of infections in the country
Residents wait in a line to get tested for the coronavirus in Colombo in early January. There has been a resurgence of infections in the country Ishara S. KODIKARA AFP

“Although some parliamentarians took it, the government does not endorse it,” said Minister of Mass Media Keheliya Rambukwella.

Sri Lanka is in the grip of a coronavirus surge, with the number of cases and deaths going from 3,300 and 13 in early October to 53,750 infections and 270 dead now.

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