Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina said two lawmakers have died after becoming infected with coronavirus, as he claimed a herbal concoction continues to protect him and his family from COVID-19.
Eleven parliamentarians and 14 senators also tested positive for the virus, Rajoelina said.
“One deputy died. A senator died. After the tests carried out on the deputies, 11 members of parliament were detected carrying the coronavirus. At the Senate, 14 people, senators and agents of Senate carry the coronavirus,” Rajoelina said during an appearance on a talk show on national television late on Sunday.
He did not say when the lawmakers died and did not name them.
The Indian Ocean island on July 5 placed its capital, Antananarivo, under a new lockdown following a surge in infections, two months after restrictions were eased.
Madagascar has 5,080 confirmed coronavirus cases and 37 deaths, according to government data, with authorities estimating the peak will not be reached until the end of August.
In April, Rajoelina launched a local herbal concoction “Covid-Organics” that he claimed prevents and cures the coronavirus, despite warnings from the World Health Organization that its efficacy is unproven.
“It is true that I have been in contact with people likely to carry the coronavirus. I have even entered hospitals that care for patients with COVID-19. I’m fine,” he said.
“I don’t carry coronavirus at all. I have no symptoms. Thank God. I follow the directives that I have given myself. But above all, me and my loved ones, my wife and my children, we drink and we follow a treatment based on the Covid-Organics concoction.”
Rajoelina promoted the brew for export, saying it is the country’s “green gold” that will “change history”.
The potential benefits of Covid-Organics – a tonic derived from artemisia, a plant with proven efficacy in malaria treatment, and other indigenous herbs – have not been validated by any scientific study.