Iran has become the second center of contagion of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), outside of China, yet authorities and clerics in the country have refused to take the matter seriously.
A local cleric from the Iranian city of Qom, the city at the center of the outbreak and where many Arabs had been visiting at the time of the spread, has suggested a "cure" for the new coronavirus. This so-called cure is the rectal administration of violet leaf oil. The essential oil is believed to ease pain, specifically for muscular and joint problems. It can also be used for coughs, bronchitis, colds, and sore throats.
For most coronavirus patients, the virus begins and ends in the lungs. So maybe that's why the Iranian cleric thought the oil could be a preventive measure. But then again, what does the application to the anus have anything to do with that?
Twitter users have been sharing cleric Ayatollah Tabrizian's post, which was reportedly shared on the social messaging service Telegram to over 120,000 followers. In it, the cleric accused Western medicine of being "un-Islamic." Instead, he listed several alternative techniques for fighting the novel coronavirus.
According to The Daily Star UK, the cleric also advised people to protect themselves from the virus by consuming large amounts of brown sugar, onions, and apples. He also said that inhaling snuff (dried and finely ground tobacco) and burning wild rue could also be effective.
The cleric is known for bizarre statements regarding medicine and Islam. He once said that "modern-day health problems and new diseases are caused by wrong lifestyles." He said that if people internalized Islamic lifestyles, people would "never need medical treatment and they would never go to the doctor's offices."
With the spread of coronavirus in Iran, dealing with such a fast-spreading virus must come with serious measures. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem as though Iran is doing everything in its power to restrict the spread of it. For example, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently said that there are no plans to quarantine entire cities and towns, according to the BBC.
The outbreak of the virus prompted the government to request the closure of major shrines in cities like Qom, Mashhad, and Shiraz. However, Iran's powerful clerics have rejected the notices and have kept the shrines open.
One cleric, Mohammad Saeedi, has even said that people should visit the holy shrine of Masoumeh in Qom "to seek cure for coronavirus."
Many Bahrainis, Saudis, and other Arabs had been visiting Iran for religious purposes and came back to their home countries infected. The number of recorded cases in Bahrain is by far the worst of all Arab countries. On Thursday, a total of 33 people had been carrying COVID-19.
Iran is the worst in the Middle East when it comes to number of people infected and number of deaths. As of Wednesday, Iran's novel coronavirus death toll climbed to 26, with 245 confirmed cases. Iranian officials, including the country's Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, have tested positive for the virus.
According to CNN, many schools and public offices around the country have closed. Officials have also banned hookah from cafés in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus in that manner.
The novel coronavirus has been spreading fast with new cases reported in the Middle East.
The virus has now infected more than 82,000 globally, killing at least 2,800, according to the latest numbers.