Prominent Zimbabwean preacher, Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa has risked angering health authorities after telling his followers that the novel coronavirus would not kill them.
In a broadcast on Wednesday, Makandiwa told his followers that they would not die – a message which authorities will find unhelpful as it can lead to risk-taking under a false belief of divine immunity.
Claiming that the coronavirus was “spoken many many years ago”, Makandiwa said: “Everyone under the sound of my voice, as long as you can hear me, you’re spared. There’s not even one person listening to me tonight who shall be killed by this disease.
“You will not die because the Son (Jesus) is involved in what we’re doing.”
Makandiwa said he was giving his followers “freedom no medication can offer.”
“You can’t find this freedom in any pharmacy. If you can hear my voice tonight, start praying for others, stop praying for yourself… you’re covered, you’re protected,” he added.
Health authorities worldwide are calling for greater personal hygiene including regular washing of hands with soap or hand sanitisers and avoiding touching the face, as well as shunning crowds. Handshakes are strongly discouraged.
The virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Presently, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.
Makandiwa will not be the first preacher to get into the cross-hairs of health authorities for misleading followers on the virus.
In Nigeria, there have been calls for the arrest of prominent TV preacher Chris Oyakhilome, known as Pastor Chris, after he repeated an unsubstantiated theory that the coronavirus is caused by fifth generation (5G) mobile communication technology.