ECONOMYNEXT – Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi who banked on black magic and sorcery to protect herself and Sri Lankans from the pandemic has been infected with Covid-19, officials said today after two tests.
The 56-year-old was asked to go into isolation on Friday after an antigen test showed she was infected. A PCR test confirmed she was infected despite publicly consuming a shaman’s potion touted as a vaccine as well as a cure against the coronavirus.
“After the antigen test result came in positive, the minister has been asked to isolate herself pending the PCR test results,” an official close to the minister said. “The PCR test result came in today and that is also positive.”
A mason-turned-miracle maker in Kegalle claimed that Goddess Kaali appeared to him in a dream and dictated the recipe for his syrup to save humanity from the coronavirus. He claims it has four ingredients, two of which are honey and nutmeg.
Health Minister Wanniarachchi endorsed the potion publicly by consuming it in front of cameras in December. It was also given to parliament Speaker and several government legislators.
Former mason Dhammika Bandara claimed that his preparation gives life-long immunity and was also a cure for Covid-19.
Within hours of the health minister testing positive, the government announced approving the AstraZenica-Oxford vaccine for emergency use in Sri Lanka in the first step to a mass inoculation.
Pro-government television channels gave wide publicity to the sorcerer’s concoction which was considered a cheaper alternative to a vaccine.
Some even misleadingly called Bandara a smart Ayurveda physician, only to trigger a barrage of protests from genuine practitioners of indigenous medicine who insisted that the shaman was not one of them.
Wanniarachchi was photographed slurping a table spoon of the concoction, now known as the “Dhammika Paniya.”
Health authorities have approved it as a “food supplement.”
Wanniarachchi becomes the highest ranking person in Sri Lanka’s health sector to contract the virus. However, she is not the first person to test positive for the virus after taking the mason’s mixture.
Women and Child Development minister Piyal Nishantha de Silva tested positive last week.
He was one of the government legislators to gulp the syrup along with Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.
Three other parliamentarians – Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Dayasiri Jayasekara and Rauff Hakeem – have contracted the virus.
Exactly a month earlier in November, health minister Wanniarachchi reverently dropped a pot of “miracle water” into the Kalu river after another self-styled godman, Eliyantha White, claimed that water blessed by him could end the spread of the virus across the country.
Wanniarachchi was so confident of White’s miraculous water, she took off her mask at the ritualistic pot-throwing in the company of her security personnel.
Since November, the number of infections in the country have shot up from 11,000 to over 56,800. The number of deaths have increased from 20 to 278 by Friday. (COLOMBO, January 23, 2021)