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Sri Lankan holy man’s ‘miracle’ potion for Covid turns sour

A self-styled Sri Lankan holy man’s supposed miracle potion to prevent Covid-19 has turned sour after a minister who publicly drank it was taken to hospital with the virus.

Thousands defied public gathering restrictions to swamp a village in central Sri Lanka last month to get the syrup made by Dhammika Bandara.

The women and child development minister, Piyal Nishantha de Silva, was among several politicians who consumed the concoction, but parliamentary officials said he had since tested positive for coronavirus and was taken to a treatment centre.

Family members of another politician from Bandara’s village had also been infected despite taking the syrup.

Pro-government media gave widespread publicity to the holy man, who claimed the formula was revealed to him by Kali, the Hindu goddess of death and destruction of evil.

The only ingredients he acknowledged were honey and nutmeg.

The government has scrambled to distance itself from Bandara, whose preparation was approved as a food supplement by the official indigenous medicine unit.

“Although some parliamentarians took it, the government does not endorse it,” said Keheliya Rambukwella, the minister of mass media.

Sri Lanka is in the grip of a coronavirus surge, with the number of cases rising from 3,300 in early October to 53,750 daily infections now.

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