Everyday, a number of fake news and misleading notes on Coronavirus are surfacing online, thanks to the "well-qualified graduates of WhatsApp and Facebook Universities" who are in a mission to spread false information to as many people as possible.
Of late, various hoax messages had gone viral on how to protect us from the virus infection, like drinking garlic water, hot water and cow urine, to name a few. However, another shocking tip that was doing the rounds on social media was that 'Constant sex will kill Coronavirus'. Now, the latest social media proposal to prevent the virus infection is that the "water used in an Islamic ablution ritual can kill the novel COVID-19".
Ablution water kills Coronavirus?
The news is mainly spread across Indonesia after a report by Gosulsel.com was published citing a doctor named Dr Lutfi Parewangi. In the news article that goes by the translated title "Dr Lutfi Parewangi Calls Ablution Can Destroy Coronavirus", Lufti, who is said to be one of the specialists in internal medicine in Makassar, claims that people in Indonesia need not have to worry about the virus as "the country is rich in water."
According to him, the virus will be destroyed with water, especially for Muslims, if they use the ablution water. "The viruses will die when we perform ablution," he is quoted (translated) as saying in the misleading report. He also added that besides water, exposure to sunlight in Indonesian territory will kill the viruses quickly.
Similarly, a renowned Islamic Scholar, Dr Abubakr Imam Aliagan, had also recently asked the government, the Sultanate Council and Muslim authorities in Nigeria not to shut down mosques over coronavirus outbreak. He stated that Muslims have already been gifted with a natural immune system to fight COVID-19 as they wash their hands five times daily before observing the prayers. He also added that since Muslim women are always wear in Hijab, Niqab and gloves, they are also safe.
Thousands of netizens have been sharing the above-mentioned text on multiple social media platforms amid Coronavirus scare.
The viral message on ablution water will kill Coronavirus is undoubtedly a misleading piece of information. Though water plays a key role in maintaining personal hygiene as recommended by many health experts and World Health Organisation, water alone will not help in getting rid of the viruses.
Social media responses
For Muslims touting Wudhu (ablution) in response to coronavirus - the WHO guidelines are to scrub your hands with soap for 20-60 seconds - NOT simply rinse your hands with water. For everyone's sake please wash your hands with soap regularly!
Coronavirus in Indonesia
As on Thursday, 19 March 2020, 269 active cases are reported while the death toll stands at 25 in Indonesia alone. On Wednesday, despite the Coronavirus scare, thousands of Muslim pilgrims from across Asia had gathered in Indonesia, just two weeks after a similar event in Malaysia caused more than 500 COVID-19 infections.
However, latest reports suggest that Ijtima Asia, the event conducted as part of the global Tablighi Jama'at movement of evangelical Muslims has been halted at Gowa amid virus fears.