These are the tubers bought by Chatinkha Chidzanja Nkhoma
* They are high on demand as home-based remedies to ward off COVID-19 infection
* These home-based remedies are traditional methods of treating nasal blockages
* But not scientifically proved to heal COVID-19
* Best way is to strictly adhere to the COVID-19 preventive measures
By Duncan Mlanjira
A lot of Malawian vendors are lining up the streets in the cities selling ginger, garlic, lemon, honey, paw paw and blue gum tree leaves which are being used as home-based remedies, believed to cure or ward off the Coronavirus.
But an alert has been sounded by concerned members of the public, warning unsuspecting people to take extra care as some unscrupulous individuals are selling what they claim to be ginger and garlic — when in fact they are wild tubers.
The warning is that these wild tubers are suspected to be, or can be, poisonous.
Chatinkha Chidzanja Nkhoma posted on Facebook that she believed that what she was buying was ginger from vendors at the entrance to the car park of Sana and Visions.
“It looks just like ginger and my daughter was about to use it in a recipe that called for ginger. Luckily, she hadn’t chopped enough and I offered to help,” she said.
“I sniffed it and it turned out it was not the correct ginger for cooking but a wild ginger, which is actually poisonous if consumed in large amounts.
“Please be careful if you have bought any — give it a good sniff because that’s the only way to tell if it’s ginger or not. It also tastes bitter (yep I licked it after smelling it).
“The demonic merchants of death are out there as if the horrors of COVID-19 are not enough. Please share this experience [with others].”
Simeon Chisambiro concurred with Chatinkha, saying on Sunday he was at Lizulu market along the Blantyre Lilongwe M1 Road and when a vendor approached him with ginger, he asked him “to eat it first” and after refusing Chisambiro sniffed it.
“The smell wasn’t that strong as the ginger is,” he testified.
Tumeni Esther Mhone revealed that her mother-in-law bought some ginger for her but before she used it, she broke the ginger and sniffed it.
“It was not the smell of ginger I know — it smelled like something else. I had to taste and it it was so bitter.
“People can be merciless at times. I thank God for your safety,” she said in reference to Chatinkha’s and Chisambiro’s experience.
Nyabanda Sandra Nellie also chipped in to that she bought ginger and following the alert by Chatinkha, she went back to it to determine if it really is cooking ginger.
Adack Pafupi contributed by saying: “When something is in great demand we should always be careful as buyers, because evil-minded vendors just want to cash in from the situation without considering human life.
“Thanks for warning us. I will also warn others,” he said.
Health experts Bridget Malewezi and Peter Kumpalume told Rainbow TV that the home-based remedies that include steaming have been used since time immemorial to cure nasal blockage.
But scientifically, it hasn’t been proven that such remedies can cure the respiratory disease like COVID-19.
They both encouraged the public that much as they are free to try the home based remedies, they still have to strictly adhere to the COVID-19 preventive measures such as keeping a social distance of at least one metre from other persons; washing hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol based hand sanitizer.
If hands are dirty or soiled, don’t use hand sanitizer, rather, wash hands with soap and when coughing or sneezing, cover nose and mouth with handkerchief or tissue paper or sneeze into a flexed elbow.
The preventive measures — which are contained in the Public health (Coronavirus and COVID-19) (Prevention, Containment and Management) Rules, 2020 — also asks the public to refrain from touching face, mouth, nose and eyes and avoid handshakes.