Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha National President Chakrapani claimed on Monday that the novel coronavirus, which has so far killed over 1,700 people, is not a virus but an “avatar to punish non-vegetarians”, IANS reported.

“Corona is not a virus, but avatar for the protection of poor creatures,” Chakrapani claimed. “They have come to give the message of death and punishment to the one who eats them.” The Hindu Mahasabha leader said the Chinese are being taught a lesson “not to kill animals and to become vegetarian”.

Chakrapani also provided a so-called solution to the coronavirus epidemic. He advised Chinese President Xi Jinping should create an “idol of Corona and seek forgiveness”. The Hindu Mahasabha leader claimed that this would calm the anger of the “avatar”.

Chakrapani added that according to his theory, Indians need not fear the virus. He said, “god worshipping and gau rakshak [cow protector] believer Indians” are immune to the virus.

The toll in China’s coronavirus epidemic rose to 1,770 on Sunday, as 105 new fatalities were reported in Monday morning’s daily update. The country also reported 2,048 new confirmed cases. The total number of confirmed cases across the country now stands at 70,548. The global toll as of midnight on Sunday stood at 1,775.

In Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, 1,933 new confirmed cases were reported. Of the 105 new deaths, 100 were from the Hubei province.

The virus has spreads to dozens of countries, including 40 new infections reported in the United States on Sunday. India has reported three confirmed cases of the coronavirus – all in Kerala. However, two of the patients have been discharged from hospital, and the third is reportedly in a stable condition.