A man in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district in India was arrested Thursday after posting a viral video that shows him eating a snake, according to India Today. The man believed that eating the snake would help protect him against COVID-19, the news outlet said.
In a clip of the video obtained by India Today, the man is seen biting into the snake. Eventually, the snake is ripped in two, but the man continues to eat large chunks. The outlet said that in the video the man tells the camera that eating the snake is good for “keeping COVID-19 at bay.”
The Times of India reports that the man was identified as a 50-year-old agricultural worker named Vadivelu. The video was reportedly shown to a district forest officer (DFO), who subsequently told his team to arrest the man.
In an interview with The Times of India, the DFO said that the man claimed to have been “forced to eat the snake by a few other men.” He also claimed to be inebriated during the incident.
The snake was already dead when the man started to eat it, the newspaper said, but the DFO said it still could have seriously harmed him.
“He chewed the snake that was already dead. He was lucky that he did not bite into the venom glands of the snake, which was a common krait,” the DFO told the paper. “The common krait contains neurotoxins that can paralyze a human being.”
The man was fined 7,000 rupees (about $97) by the Forest Department for chewing on the snake, the paper said.
This is not the first time a false claim about the coronavirus has spread throughout the country. Last month, an Indian politician was seen feeding cow urine to a COVID-19 patient who was on a ventilator. According to Reuters, some radical Hindu groups in India have turned to cow urine to ward off the virus. Others in the country are promoting ineffective, and often dangerous, herbal remedies, as well as various breathing techniques, to help protect them from the virus, the BBC said.
Reuters reports that while India’s coronavirus case count is slowly decreasing, experts warn that the country could see a third wave in the coming months because of a shortage of necessary medical supplies and a low vaccination rate. So far, the country has vaccinated just shy of 4 percent of its 1.35 billion people, the news agency said.