Egypt’s media fight coronavirus with tea, fesikh and liquorice

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While many countries around the world are depending on the media in their countries to raise awareness of how to protect themselves from coronavirus, the Egyptian media has played a completely different role. Satellite channels loyal to the Egyptian regime have promoted dozens of false rumours about the coronavirus, and tried to reduce people’s fears about the risk of the virus, and promote some vegetables, fruits, and even popular foods as a cure or vaccine against infection. Egyptian channels hosted dozens of guests who talked about treatments for coronavirus, although no country in the world has announced a treatment for the newly discovered virus. Egyptian presenter Amani al-Khayyat said that tea is considered an effective remedy. On in her programme on CBC Extra, Al-Khayyat said it is a sign from God to the Egyptian people, who like to drink tea so much, and that the Egyptian government was offering it at a subsidised price for low-income people on ration cards. Al-Khayyat called on the Egyptians to drink more hot drinks, especially tea, because tea does not allow the novel coronavirus to enter the trachea, but rather takes it to the stomach. Amani Al-Khayyat did not mention any scientific organisation or any scientific research that supports what she said. A guest on another Egyptian channel The Health & Beauty said that if the Egyptians ate fesikh they would not be infected with coronavirus. Fesikh is a traditional celebratory Egyptian fish dish, consisting of fermented, highly salted, dried mugil, and eaten by Egyptians on the day of Sham El-Nessim (spring holidays), and has a very bad reputation for causing food poisoning. Another guest on Sada El-Balad, the Echo of the Country, called on Egyptians to eat onions to prevent coronavirus.

The Egyptian anchor close to the Egyptian regime, Syed Ali, said on Al-Hadath channel that onions are an effective way to prevent coronavirus. Egyptian broadcaster Nashaat el-Daihi called on Egyptians to eat garlic, because garlic destroys coronavirus. Another broadcaster on CBC said that lemon is an effective antivirus, and that it is proven to be successful at keeping coronavirus away. The broadcaster did not explain how it had been proven that lemons are a successful deterrent against the virus, or how to conduct medical tests. Garlic, onion and lemon were the most common treatments that Egyptian journalists have mentioned as a treatment for coronavirus. Despite their health benefits, it is not scientifically proven that garlic, onion, or lemon, is a treatment or an anti-virus.

The Egyptian broadcaster Ahmed Moussa presented another strange recipe for defeating the virus, where he asked one of his guests, the actor Mohy Ismail, to present his recipe to counter the virus, and he said that if any Egyptian eats the lemon peel after putting it into the mixer with yogurt, he will be like a horse and nothing would infect him. Agricultural Egypt TV channel, which is one of the official Egyptian TV channels and is affiliated to the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, hosted an expert who said that liquorice is also a treatment for coronavirus. DMC channels had a different treatment, with more than one broadcaster and guest saying on their programmes that lentils are the most important treatment to counter coronavirus.

Observers say that misinformation spread by journalists and broadcasters loyal to the Egyptian regime was deliberate and intentional, in order to distract Egyptians from demanding the regime provide appropriate health services, or ask what it is doing to confront coronavirus. Egyptian journalists accused the Egyptian regime’s satellite channels of intentionally misleading the people, and broadcasting false news to distract people from holding the Egyptian regime accountable. Egyptian doctors told Egypt Watch that the Egyptian media has not played any role in increasing awareness about coronavirus, and has not provided them with correct information. On the contrary, it has systematically provided false information and instead of hosting specialised doctors or university professors, it hosted a group of liars who have just repeated misinformation.