Residents in Madagascar have formed long queues to pick up bottles of herbal tea that they have been told is a “cure” for coronavirus.
Madagascar’s president, Andry Rajoelina, said tests have been carried out on the drink and that it “gives results in seven days” – claims which have been strongly rejected by medical experts.
Further claiming that two people had already been cured, Rajoelina added: "Schoolchildren should be given this to drink... little by little throughout the day.”
Video footage from Madagascar shows people lining up to be given the drink, that has been labelled Covid-Organics, free of charge.
One person said: “The president says this remedy cures and we trust him so we drink it.”
Another added: “When I discovered this drink, I hesitated as a parent. I said to myself: 'How come sick people don't drink it, and why do we make students drink it?' I hesitated a lot.”
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The World Health Organization (WHO) have dismissed the claims that the drink has the potential to damage people’s health as its "scientific evidence had not been established".
The herbal drink is produced from the artemisia plant – the source of an ingredient used in a malaria treatment – as well as other Malagasy plants.
No deaths have so far been reported out of 121 cases on Madagascar, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The herbal tea is the latest product that misleadingly claims to either offer protection for, or cure, coronavirus.
Faith healer Bishop Climate Wiseman was criticised earlier this month for selling a “plague protection kit” for £91.
Bishop Wiseman, the head of the Kingdom Church in Camberwell, south London, promised his followers the small bottle of oil and piece of red yarn will protect them from COVID-19.
Other unsubstantiated claims have been widely spread online – including one that suggested garlic would prevent someone catching coronavirus.
The WHO acknowledged that garlic provided health benefits but denied there was any evidence that it offered any extra protection during the pandemic.
Another theory touted on Facebook, that quotes a “Japanese doctor” was drinking water every 15 minutes to flush out the virus.
This was also debunked by Professor Trudie Lang at the University of Oxford, who said "no biological mechanism” that supported the theory.
In January, YouTuber Jordan Sather claimed that MMS – a “miracle mineral supplement” that contains bleaching agent chlorine dioxide – can “wipe out coronavirus”.
However, various health agencies have warned that drinking MMS could be dangerous.
Several other countries have offered up their own cure claims – including in Mexico, where Puebla state governor Miguel Barbosa said a mix of turkey and mole, a traditional Mexican marinade, was a vaccine.
Meanwhile Hindu group in India hosted a party where worshippers were encouraged to drink cow urine to battle coronavirus.
In Turkmenistan, president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov claimed inhaling smoke from a burning desert-region plant called Peganuma harmala could beat coronavirus, while Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko claimed driving tractors was the answer.
One other fake story spread on social media was that taking cocaine would cure someone of coronavirus.
The French government was forced to put out a statement saying cocaine was not a cure, saying: "Cocaine does NOT protect against COVID-19. It is an addictive drug that causes serious side effects and is harmful to people's health."
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