NEW DELHI – An Indian healer who claimed he could cure coronavirus by kissing people’s hands has died from the disease after infecting 20 of his followers.
The healer who is from Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh kissed the hands of his devotees and told them that the kisses would rid their lives of problems, Times of India reported. He also claimed his ‘kiss-cure’ worked on coronavirus patients – despite the virus spreading through contagious droplets from the mouth or nose.
According to health department officials, the man contracted coronavirus himself and tested positive on 3 June. He died just a day later. The officials began contact tracing those who had been in contact with the healer and took 40 swab samples to identify any further cases.
Twenty of those swabs returned a positive result, including from seven members of the man’s family.
Swab collector Ruchika Chouhan warned people not to believed such dangerous claims amid a wave of new infections. The health administration identified 29 more people involved in similar coronavirus ‘exorcisms’ and has since put them in quarantine.
As of 12 June 2020, India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has confirmed a total of 297,535 cases, 147,195 recoveries (including 1 migration) and 8,498 deaths in the country. India currently has the largest number of confirmed cases in Asia and has the fourth-highest number of confirmed cases in the world.
A surge in infections has swept across the country since lockdown measures were eased, with almost 10,000 new cases reported on Thursday. Hospitals remain swamped with Covid-19 patients in the worst-hit cities of Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai.