SRINAGAR: As the government is struggling to contain the spread of novel Coronavirus, which has claimed two lives in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and left at least 38 people infected, misinformation about its cure is doing rounds on social media only to add to the anxiety of gullible Kashmiris reeling under a lockdown since Tuesday.
From offering unverified home remedies to tackle the virus to floating fake advisories asking people to avoid foods such as ice cream and chicken and unfounded theories, people in Kashmir are being flooded with misinformation on social media.
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Last week, a young shopkeeper in Tangmarg area of Baramulla district was arrested after he claimed to have found a cure for coronavirus.
In an audio clip which went viral on various social media platforms, the shopkeeper claimed to have found a cure for treating coronavirus and requested for his message to be made viral. The clip generated a stir and prompted gullible people to seek more information. Also recently a doctor and an ayurveda so-called specialist were booked under the IPC and Disaster Management Act for spreading rumours.
One such rumour on WhatsApp, which went viral, suggested that garlic, ginger and lemon can protect people against the virus. A relatively threatening message warns people to “not hold your thirst because once membrane in your throat is dried, the virus will invade into your body within 10 minutes.”
Messages recommending yoga, inhaling cannabis and heavy vitamin C intake have also been circulated widely since the outbreak of Covid 19 leaving people Clueless as which one to act upon and which one to ignore.
A new remedy for the virus is trending on social media in Kashmir. A message claiming drinking ‘Safron Khehwa thrice a day will kill the virus. The message is widely being circulated on social media.
However, a medical expert dismissed the claims on about the curing ability of any remedies offered on social media.
Talking to Curtain Raiser, Dr. G M Chuloo said, “Khehwa was used by our ancestors to prevent or cure a common cold. But scientifically we have no proof about its curing ability.”
Scientists need time to study this new disease and experiment potential treatment for the same. However people are impatient and sadly tend to believe in ever remedy offered on social media,” he added.
To a question whether garlic can prevent the virus, Dr Chuloo said, “It is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties, but there is no proof that eating garlic can protect people from coronavirus.”
Sadly the unfounded claim that the ‘antibiotics can prevent people from virus’ is spreading faster than the information on disease itself.
“Antibiotics can help you fight only bacteria. Coronavirus being a virus will remain unaffected. Doctors are prescribing antibiotics to those infected with COVID-19, as infected can catch bacterial infections too. But it is advisable not to consume antibiotics as a precaution.”
When asked whether eating chicken or eggs can infect a person, Dr Chuloo said, “As the virus spread from animals, there is no harm in eating poultry. Also scientifically there is no link between eating chicken, eggs and coronavirus yet.”
People of the valley seem to be afraid of prevailing cold weather season of Kashmir as a means to help intensify the virus but the medical expert sought to dismiss such fears.
“I have heard that the hot temperature kills the virus and since June is a few months away, I am afraid that the virus may kill many in the valley.” Mushtaq Ahmad of Pulwama said.
However, Dr Chuloo asked people not to panic with regard to weather adversaries. “If the hot weather kills the virus, then why is it spreading in Arab?” Chuloo asked.
World Health Organisation on its website said the normal human body temperature remains around 36.5C to 37C regardless of the external temperature or weather.
“Taking a hot bath, using hand dryers, spraying alcohol or chlorine all over the body, using vaccines against pneumonia, regularly rinsing your nose with saline and using of antibiotics can’t protect people against the virus.” according to WHO.
Dr Chuloo appealed people not to pay heed to rumours, drink warm water and stay indoors. “People should not be afraid of the virus. As more patients in India are dying of TB itself. Almost 1200 a day. Does that mean people should feel panicked about the disease”
Chuloo believes that Kashmir has not entered into the third stage – Community transmission of the virus yet.
“Close to 40 positive cases does not mean we are in the third stage. We can’t say much with certainty at least till mid-April.” he said.
“To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus.” WHO website said in its reply to a question,
Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus?
WHO recommends those infected with virus should receive appropriate care treatment to get cured and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care.
Some specific treatments are currently under investigation and will be tested through clinical trials, according to WHO.