July 7, 2020, 12.22 AM

AMBON, KOMPAS.com – Indonesia's Ministry of Agriculture remains upbeat about its eucalyptus-based products, most notably the aromatherapy eucalyptus necklace touted as a Covid-19 antivirus, despite the questions raised against their efficacy against the coronavirus.

Indonesian Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto is among those weighing in on the debate,

“If the [eucalyptus] necklaces and other products can strengthen their users' psychological and mental state against Covid-19, then there is no problem,” Terawan said in Ambon, Maluku province on Monday, July 6.

“Physical health will not be enough in facing the pandemic. Mental and emotional wellbeing are just as vital.”

The agriculture ministry official behind the eucalyptus products called on the public not to jump for joy just yet.

Also read: Indonesia Eyes Ties with Japan, Russia Pharma on Eucalyptus Based Anti-Coronavirus Products

“We have been researching eucalyptus and over 50 essential oils since we heard the first reports of Covid-19 from China last January,” said Agriculture Ministry Head Researcher for Spices and Medicine Doctor Evi Savitri Iriani.

The ministry also carried out research with the Indonesian Veterinary Central Research (BB Veteriner), Evi added.

“[BB Veteriner] has had experience studying pandemics like bird flu and SARS.”

“They also have the common corona and other viruses for tests. We tested the latter, as the SARS-CoV-2 virus that Covid-19 is derived from has yet to be developed in a lab,” said Evi.

Seeking more answers

A eucalyptus based inhaler A eucalyptus based inhaler

The head of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) Dr. Daeng M. Faqih remained skeptical about the eucalyptus necklace and related products.

“There should be more research to provide proof that the aromatherapy eucalyptus necklace can be used as an antivirus,” said Daeng.

Also read: Indonesia's Eucalyptus-Based Anti Coronavirus Product Line Sparks Debate

But Daeng’s scepticism has not dampened the agriculture ministry’s enthusiasm.

“The eucalyptus necklace and other related products will be mass produced and available for the Indonesian public this August, following its official launch last May,” said Agriculture Ministry head of Research and Development Dr. Fadjry Djufry.

“The license for the necklace is still pending from the National Agency for Drug and Food Control [BPOM]. But other products like the roll-on and inhaler already pocketed the BPOM’s permit.”

Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo said the eucalyptus necklace and other products have been exposed to the influenza, beta and gamma corona viruses.

“The tests show that the eucalyptus product can eliminate 80 to 100 percent of the viruses,” he said in a written statement. “Aside from the necklace, the eucalyptus products will come in the form of roll-ons, ointments and diffusers.”

Indonesia currently has 64,958 Covid-19 cases and 3,241 fatalities. 

(Writers: Rahmat Rahman Patty, Gloria Setyvani Putri, Sania Mashabi | Editors: David Oliver Purba, Gloria Setyvani Putri, Diamanty Meiliana)

Sources:

https://regional.kompas.com/read/2020/07/06/15505111/soal-kalung-antivirus-corona-menkes-terawan-saya-malah-belum-mempelajari?page=all#page2

https://www.kompas.com/sains/read/2020/07/05/160100523/kalung-antivirus-corona-kementan-peneliti-di-baliknya-angkat-bicara?page=all#page2

https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2020/07/04/20234441/kementan-sebut-kalung-eucalyptus-sebagai-antivirus-corona-ini-tanggapan-idi?page=all#page2.  

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