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Facebook Removes Kyrgyz President's Post Promoting Toxic Root To Fight COVID

Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov inspects a medical facility in Bishkek on April 15.

Facebook has removed Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov's controversial post promoting a toxic root for treatment of COVID-19, calling it "misinformation."

Japarov's post in question, in which he announced that his country found an "effective" method to treat COVID-19, was posted on Facebook on April 15.

The entry contained a video showing men without protective equipment bottling the solution with the extracts of the aconite root, warning that drinking the solution while it is cold might result in death.

The post was later deleted from Facebook.

In answer to electronic enquiries from RFE/RL over the disappearance of the post, a Facebook spokesperson said on April 19 that the company removed Japarov's post.

“We’ve removed this post as we do not allow anyone, including elected officials, to share misinformation that could lead to imminent physical harm or spread false claims about how to cure or prevent COVID-19," the Facebook statement said.

On April 16, Health Minister Alymkadyr Beishenaliev announced at a press conference that a solution with extracts of aconite root had been given to 300 coronavirus-infected patients.

He also sipped from a cup containing the poisonous root's extract in front of journalists and said that "the solution is not dangerous for one's health."

The World Health Organization’s mission in the Central Asian nation harshly criticized the idea, saying that there’s no proof aconite root is safe for treatment of any illnesses, including coronavirus infection.

Several physicians who spoke with RFE/RL said use of the root to treat COVID-19 violates Kyrgyzstan’s law on public safety

Aconite root is found in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang and some parts of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Some people use the root in herbal soups and meals, believing in its health benefits. But aconite roots contain aconitine, a cardiotoxin and neurotoxin. Consuming aconite root can lead to sickness or even death.