The Press Information Bureau of the Government of India has issued an advisory for prevention of coronavirus infection that medical doctors are finding hard to stomach. The advisory of January 29 claims homeopathy can prevent infection and unani medicines can treat symptoms.
Among the preventive measures:
“1. Maintain personal hygiene. 2. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 minutes.”
There is also: “Drink Shadang Paniya (Musta, Parpat, Usheer, Chandan,Udeechya & Nagar) processed water (10 gm powder boiled in 1-liter water, until it reduces to half). Store it in a bottle and drink it when thirsty.” It lists also the Ayurvedic practice of preventing infection by pouring drops of “sesame oil in each nostril daily in the morning.”
The press release states that a meeting of January 28 of the Central Council for Research in Homeopathy discussed prevention of coronavirus infection. “The group of experts inter alia has recommended that homoeopathy medicine Arsenicum album30 could be taken as prophylactic medicine,” the release states.
The release lists unani drugs that are supposedly helpful, and recommends eating easily digestible food.
Leena Menghaney, regional head of the Access Campaign of the global group of doctors without borders, Medecins Sans Frontieres said the press release was both tragic and funny.
The death toll from the mysterious new strain of the coronavirus first reported from Wuhan in China, has now crossed 130, with 6,000 people reportedly testing positive in China alone. The confirmed cases now outnumber those reported during the outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002-03.
Japan and the US have already evacuated nationals from Wuhan city in China. India too is in the process of evacuating its citizens from Wuhan.
Dr Anant Bhan, researcher in bioethics and global health and member of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, who keenly follows all health research, tweeted: “This advisory is actually ‘ill-advised’. To claim preventive efficacy/symptomatic management without any kind of evidence when not a whole lot is known about the virus, and there is a chance of rumor-mongering and panic, reflects poorly on the AYUSH ministry.”