Looking for a way to prevent coronavirus? Have you tried eating Mexican mole, or driving a tractor … what about drinking cow urine?
With the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 now more than 650,000 and growing at a rate of knots each day, the pandemic has, understandably, caused panic in people across the world, leading several leaders and public figures to come up with some unusual claims in a bid to restore calm.
In Mexico, the governor of the state of Puebla, Miguel Barbosa, caused outrage on Saturday when he suggested a vaccine had already been discovered for the virus – it is a culinary speciality made from turkey and mole, a traditional Mexican marinade, he said. The dish also happens to be from Puebla.
There is, so far, no scientific evidence to support his claim, but it's not the first time Mr Barbosa's understanding of virology has come into question. Only days earlier he sparked a public outcry by claiming poor people were immune to Covid-19. His reasoning? Most of Mexico's confirmed cases were people who could afford to travel internationally.
“Most of the coronavirus patients are wealthy people,” Mr Barbosa said. “If you are rich you are at risk. If you are poor you are not. The poor, we’re immune.”
Correlation is not causation, Mr Barbosa.
For Turkmenistan, the secret to beating the pandemic, according to President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, is inhaling the smoke from a burning desert-region plant called Peganuma harmala, or Syrian rue, while in Belarus the answer is driving tractors. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a former collective farm director, told officials at a televised meeting "there shouldn't be any panic" over the virus.
"You just have to work, especially now, in a village", he said.
"People are working in tractors, no one is talking about the virus … there, the tractor will heal everyone. The fields heal everyone."
Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli drew ire last week when he refused to shut places of worship to prevent crowds gathering and potentially spreading the virus on the grounds that churches are where true healing is found. He told a congregation that coronavirus is satanic and cannot survive in the body of Jesus Christ.
He is not the only one to bring divine bodies into the equation. In India, a Hindu group hosted a cow urine drinking party this month to ward off the infection. Many Hindus consider cows sacred and some drink bovine urine believing it has medicinal properties, but experts say there is no evidence to suggest it works for Covid-19.
As of now, there is no known cure for the virus. Scientists and doctors continue to study it in the search for an effective medicine and vaccine, with several existing drugs being trialled.
In the meantime, though, the desperate search for a way to stop this virus in its tracks has itself turned deadly. In Turkey, where suggested cures include sheep's head soup to gargling with vinegar, at least 20 people died and 34 were admitted to intensive care after drinking rubbing alcohol in a bid to protect themselves.
And in Iran, the worst-affected country in the Middle East, more than 300 people have died and 1,000 fallen sick after drinking methanol, according to local media.
It is a lesson to us all – please don't drink industrial fluids, and don't believe anything unless you hear it from a professional doctor.
Now, go wash your hands.