North Korea fighting Covid with tea and salt water

·3-min read
North Korea fighting Covid with tea and salt water

North Korea has recorded more than two million Covid cases.

It comes just a little more than a week since the regime admitted it was dealing with an “explosive outbreak” of the virus.

In February 2020, the country enforced a strict border closure to try and protect itself from the pandemic.

When North Korea’s first official Covid infections were announced on May 12, leader Kim Jong Un ordered a strict country-wide lockdown.

The leadership has now insisted it is seeing “good results” in its battle against the virus which state media is referring to as a “fever”.

According to BBC Reality Check, state media has been recommending traditional treatments including having hot drinks and gargling salt water to overcome coronavirus.

Dominik Martin/Unsplash
Dominik Martin/Unsplash

Natural remedies in the form of hot drinks have been recommended in North Korea for those who have mild symptoms of Covid.

State newspaper Rodong Simnun is endorsing natural remedies including ginger or honeysuckle teas and a willow-leaf drink.

Other recommended traditional medicines include burdock root and japonica tea.

While these ingredients can help to soothe Covid symptoms - such as easing sore throats, boosting hydration, relieving inflammation and reducing aches and pains - they will not treat the virus itself.

State media has suggested people gargle salt water morning and night to flush out viruses, despite little evidence to show that it slows the spread of Covid.

North Korea’s state news agency has reported a “thousand of tonnes of salt” will be delivered to the capital Pyongyang to make an “antiseptic solution”.

It is not widely thought this will help battle the virus as Covid is mostly caught by inhaling tiny droplets of the virus in the air via the nose and mouth.

Once Covid gets into the body it starts to spread deep into the organs.

Gargling will do little to help this once Covid has entered the body.

While ibuprofen is helpful in bringing down a high temperature and easing headaches and sore throats, it will not stop the virus from taking hold (PA)
While ibuprofen is helpful in bringing down a high temperature and easing headaches and sore throats, it will not stop the virus from taking hold (PA)

As well as natural remedies, people in North Korea have been advised to take painkillers and antibiotics rather than anti-virals.

While ibuprofen is helpful in bringing down a high temperature and easing headaches and sore throats, it will not stop the virus from taking hold.

Meanwhile antibiotics, meant for bacterial infections not viruses, are not recommended and using them unnecessarily may have adverse affects such as developing resistant bugs.

As North Korea continues to grapple with its rapidly spreading Covid outbreak, the country’s health system has been offering free medical care (AP)
As North Korea continues to grapple with its rapidly spreading Covid outbreak, the country’s health system has been offering free medical care (AP)

As North Korea continues to grapple with its rapidly spreading Covid outbreak, the country’s health system has been offering free medical care.

This ranges from basic services in villages to more specialised treatment in government hospitals, found in towns and cities.

But harsh international sanctions, extreme weather and famine have meant the country’s health system has been ailing for some time.

It’s thought outside Pyongyang, hospitals and health centres have been hit with shortages of staff as well as medicines and equipment.

Those who defect to South Korea have described having to pay for medical assistance and drugs are limited to privileged members of the ruling party, although North Korea’s state media insisted it is increasing production.

The Hermit Kingdom has turned down the offer of foreign aid to help control its rising Covid infections (AP)
The Hermit Kingdom has turned down the offer of foreign aid to help control its rising Covid infections (AP)

The Hermit Kingdom has turned down the offer of foreign aid to help control its rising Covid infections.

But academics have said Kim wants to send the world a message that he can sort out the Covid outbreak by himself and the leader is reluctant to accept help from other countries, even its neighbour China.

However, there are reports North Korea recently sent three plans to collect medical supplies from Shenyang.

South Korea has offered to send vaccines, personnel and equipment but has not had a reply from the North yet.

Meanwhile, the US has ruled out delivering vaccines directly to the country but said it is supportive of the WHO-led COVAX initiative which distributes vaccines to lower-income economies.

Until now, North Korea has shunned this scheme.

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