Cult claims bleach will protect you from SARS

Hong Kong – A religious group in Hong Kong is being investigated over allegations that it told students to drink hydrogen peroxide to protect themselves against the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), officials said on Wednesday.

The territory’s Education and Manpower Bureau said it was looking into reports that the cult, which it did not identify, has targeted students in the Yuen Long district near the Chinese border with the advice.

School principles in the district alerted the bureau to the incidents and a police spokesperson said the force was monitoring developments and would intervene if any criminal activity was suspected. There have been no reports of any injuries to children so far as a result of the cult’s alleged claims.

Hong Kong is on high alert for a possible return of SARS following one confirmed and two suspected cases in neighbouring southern Chinese province of Guangdong. SARS killed 299 people and infected 1755 in the former British colony last year.

During last year’s outbreak, vinegar supplies in Hong Kong ran out when a bogus claim circulated that burning vinegar helped ward off the virus.

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