Sri Lankan Health Minister tests positive for COVID-19 after endorsing sorcery

COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Health Minister, who publicly endorsed sorcery and magic potions to stop surging coronavirus infections in the island, has tested positive and will self-isolate, officials said yesterday.

Pavithra Wanniarachchi had publicly consumed and endorsed a magic potion, later revealed to contain honey and nutmeg, manufactured by a sorcerer who claimed it worked as a life-long inoculation against the virus.

She also poured a pot of “blessed” water into a river last November after a self-styled holy man told her that it would end the pandemic.

The island nation of 21 million on Friday approved the emergency use of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University only hours after Wanniarachchi tested positive, officials said.

“Her antigen test returned positive on Friday and she has been asked to isolate herself,” a Health Ministry official said.

“All her immediate contacts have been quarantined.”

A junior minister who had also taken the potion made popular by Wanniarachchi tested positive for the virus earlier this week.

Sri Lanka’s Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/SCMP