Medicinal and wild plants are varied in the herbal market stalls in the antique city of Tunis, where Baya seeks to supply each other and inquire about the traditional mixtures of one of the perfumers in order to prevent the emerging corona virus, which is still without an anti-vaccine.
“I fear for my elderly and sick father, so I came here to search for plants that boost his immunity,” said the 40-year-old told AFP.
While, as of Sunday, Tunisia had only announced 18 cases of HIV infection, amidst the authorities adopting strict measures, the alleys paved in the ancient city seem less crowded compared to the previous days.
Nevertheless, Tunisians still come to the herbal market in the center of the capital, known as the Souk al-Balat, which can be inferred through the aromatic scents emitted from it and its distinctive stalls where bottles and bundles of different plants line up.
Local and imported herbal medicines are often prescribed to prevent common flu, the symptoms of which are similar to those of the emerging coronavirus, which has killed more than six thousand people worldwide until Sunday noon.
In addition to the rush of consumers towards the purchase of garlic, which reached the price of one kilogram of it to 25 dinars (about 8 euros), most customers are searching for “effective” mixtures and plants, but also “cheap”.
“I can understand that the population is returning to the traditions,” said Hedi Al-Waslati, general manager of health in Tunisia.
“In fact, there are no medications and no magic herbs that can eradicate the Corona virus.”
“There is no harm in eating recipes from the grandmother … but you have to be careful and not to sink into sorcery,” he added.
He warns that people are taking advantage of the general concern “to sell mixtures whose ingredients we don’t even know.”
“What should I take to prevent this virus?” Asked Haneen Al-Waslati, one of the clients.
In front of a stall selling fresh rosemary and oregano, this 38-year-old woman says, “I want plants to sanitize the house and others that can be eaten as a drink.”
And she confirms that “the goal is to protect ourselves, nothing more, nothing less, especially since there are no drugs to combat this virus.”
“The Tunisians love everything, traditional and natural: they trust, especially at similar times, the recipes of our ancestors,” said herbalist Fathi bin Musa, 61.
This man advises his clients to perfume their homes with lamb, which is a widely available plant, and is allegedly purifying even against the emerging corona virus, although there is no evidence for this.