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WHO refutes health minister's claim that keffiyeh protects from coronavirus

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Feb 29,2020 - Last updated at Feb 29,2020

AMMAN — The World Health Organisation (WHO) has refuted a statement made by Health Minister Saad Jaber last week that the "keffiyeh" (traditional red/white or black/white scarf) can be used to prevent coronavirus. 

Jaber made this statement during a call to Jordan TV last week, noting that national committees and medical cadres “have affirmed that the keffiyeh is as effective as a medical face mask in protecting against coronavirus”, especially when washed and sterilised regularly. 

Jaber said that, as demand for medical face masks is increasing around the Kingdom, the keffiyeh is an alternative solution, although to date, no coronavirus (COVID-19) cases have been reported in the Kingdom. 

Jaber's comments came after the Jordan Food and Drug Administration banned the export of medical face masks via border crossings, a decision that at the time was described as a "precaution to ensure that there is no shortage of face masks". 

In a video refuting "fake" measures that can be taken to combat the novel coronavirus that have been circulating, BBC News' Arabic channel said in its show "Trending" that it contacted WHO, which debunked Jaber's statement. 

"The scarf [keffiyeh] is ineffective. Medial face masks are not made of the same material as regular clothes," the presenter quoted WHO's statement as saying.

The video also refuted circulated news about "consuming alcohol, using garlic, cocaine, sterilisation incense and even children's urine" as measures to combat COVID-19. 

The Jordan Times contacted the Health Ministry's spokesperson for further comment but received no response. 

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