After facing flak from various quarters for its advisory on novel Coronavirus (2019 nCoV), AYUSH Ministry, on Monday, issued a clarification that it was “precautionary.”

The Ministry of Ayush’s (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and Homoeopathy) advisory asked  people to use homeopathy and Unani medicines to prevent Coronavirus infection and said that Unani medicines could manage its symptoms.

In the wake of criticism the AYUSH Ministry’s clarification denied that the advisories had neither claimed to cure the nCoV nor suggested any specific drug to combat 2019 nCoV.

The ministry clarification said the two advisories issued on 29th January, are only in the nature of general precautionary measures to be followed in the context of such viral diseases. It also said the measures were advised based on the principles of approach in respective medical system to such viral diseases where respiratory involvement is evident.

The CPI (M) was critical of the advisory and  had tweeted, “Shocking that the Govt would resort to blatant misinformation in a serious Public Health issue which can affect the lives of people. This is sheer madness!”

Tuesday’s clarification from the AYUSH Ministry alleged that there was an attempt to malign its image.

“In this regard, it was learnt that certain news reports from media and medical professional bodies did manipulate and tried to malign the image of AYUSH systems of healthcare and tried to create distrust among the public towards these medical systems. The world is trying to find some help for the pandemic of coronavirus. There is no cure possible as of now. In this situation, any little help from any corner shall be welcomed. The effort of AYUSH Advisory may be seen from this right perspective.” the statement said.

The novel Coronavirus is a new strain of virus that spread from Wuhan province of China. The government is also on high alert and is taking all preventive measures in order to stop the virus entering the country as many people travel to India from China and visa versa on a daily basis, especially during the Chinese New Year holidays.

The Coronavirus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003. Like SARS, it can be passed among people through the respiratory tract. The symptoms of infection include fever, cough and breathing problems.

The Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to acute respiratory syndromes, but the virus in China is a novel strain and not seen before.

This is the sixth time the WHO has declared a public health emergency of international concern after it did so during the outbreaks of H1N1 in 2009; the Ebola virus in West Africa in 2014 and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2019; polio in 2014; and the Zika virus in 2016.

India stands at 23rd position amongst the top 30 countries at high risk from the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) researchers have identified. The most ‘at risk’ countries or regions worldwide are Thailand (1), Japan (2) and Hong Kong (3). The US is placed 6th on the list, Australia 10th, the UK 17th and India 23rd, the research added.