Kazakh authorities have banned tourists from visiting the naturally pink lake Kobeytuz due to influxes of people who believe elements of the lake can help prevent coronavirus (COVID-19).
The increase in visitors to the lake has been driven by social media rumours. The body of water will need 10-15 years to recover from the damage done by local tourists, who have been digging up its mud and salts en masse. Moreover, opportunists began selling mud and salts from the lake online.
“For some reason, people believe that this mud is curative and protects against COVID, and that the salt also protects against COVID. Although there is no expert or data analysis about this,” Ibrayev said.
“The ecosystem of Lake Kobeytuz and Teniz, which is located nearby, is so fragile, these are such fragile ecological systems, biological and biochemical structures,” he added.
The pink colour of the lake, located in Kazakhstan's northeastern Akmola Region, comes from microorganisms and algae that have invaded the lake.
A local doctor, Tolkyn Batayeva, told the Associated Press that using mud and salts from the lake actually poses health risks.
“It is not cleaned,” she said. “And secondly, you do not know how it was collected, where it was taken from, how it was stored. Here there is a risk, on the contrary, of contracting some kind of bacterial infection, because you are rinsing your mouth with it and this can bring harm, not benefit.”
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