Officials warn consumers of “Covid cures” of complacency against the pandemic
ECONOMYNEXT – Health officials working in the Kegalle-Warakapola area where a local Shaman is touting a cure for Covid 19 are warning residents against complacency about the pandemic as there is a danger that those who consumed the syrup may think they are immune to the SARS Cov-2 virus.
The Public Health Inspector of the Warakapola area told EconomyNext that the syrup touted by a local custodian of a Hindu Temple had been sold in the Udukumbura Othnapitiya area and “many residents claim to have consumed it.”
PHI Jayantha Kumara said several Covid 19 positive patients had been reported from the area and he and his colleagues have issued a warning that residents must “follow the Health Department guidelines to maintain social distancing, wash hands frequently and wear a mask.”
“There is a significant danger of these people believing that they are safe from the virus because they have taken the potion and are disregarding the advice we give,” he said.
“We cannot say for certain whether those who contracted the virus in the area had taken the potion or not,” Kumara told EconomyNext.
At least a dozen people in the immediate vicinity are being treated at the Warakapola hospital for Covid 19 symptoms.
The Divaina Newspaper reported that several people who had consumed the potion had contracted the disease, but Kumara said he could not confirm that report.
Local health officials in the area are currently trying to control an outbreak of Covid 19 in which has hit several apparel factories he said.
The miracle cure touted by a Shaman called Dhammika Bandara custodian of a Kali Temple in the nearby Hettimulla area has received state patronage and important government figures including Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, State Minister of Indigenous Medicine Sisira Jayakody and even Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene have been seen consuming the concoction.
Kumara stressed that that large crowds are gathering outside Bandara’s outlets in Hettimulla and Othnapitiya who at first received the potion free, now have to pay for it.
A Spokesman for the Government Medical Officers Association Dr Haritha Aluthge was quoted by media as saying that the gathering of these crowds “puts the entire Kegalle district at risk, as carriers of the virus or their contacts from high-risk transmission areas may visit low-risk areas. Police and Security personnel have a great responsibility to control such crowds.”
Television news showed Bandara, who calls himself Kali, shooing away the throng gathered outside his gates in Kegalle and when some people, including a young woman who appeared to know some incantation connected to the Hindu Goddess, insisted on the “medicine” were violently chased away. Police present on the scene said “you are violating quarantine rules” implying the throng could be arrested and charged.
Bandara also had a famous encounter at the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura where he complained he was not accorded the honour of entering the holy-of-holies the upper chamber to offer his potion to the Bo-Tree which is venerated by millions of Buddhists around the world.
He berated the Atamasthanadhipathy Pallegama Srinivasa Thero for not allowing him access saying “I am Kali, I am your mother.”
The calmness and equanimity shown by Srinivasa Thero in response to Bandara’s outburst won the senior prelate much praise on Social Media.
Most TV channels did not show the confrontation.
The pro-government Adaderana Television channel has given wide publicity to Bandara who told reporters that he “received the formula to cure Covid in a trance from the Goddess Kali.”
He told the TV channel that “anyone who takes my potion for three consecutive days will be free of Covid 19 for the rest of their lives.”
The Commissioner of Ayurveda Chathura Kumaratunga says that no local herbal potion has been approved as a cure for Covid 19.
The potion submitted by Bandara has been approved, but only as a food supplement and not a cure, he told MediaLK.com.
This was confirmed by the Co-Cabinet spokesman Dr Ramesh Pathirana who described Bandara’s potion as “an Ayurvedic Tonic” and not a cure for the virus. (Colombo, December 28, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana