30 June 2022,   01:23
North Korea: Fighting COVID with traditional medicine

North Korea is grappling with the spread of COVID in an unvaccinated population, without access to effective anti-viral drugs, writes BBC.

In early 2020, the country sealed its borders to try to insulate itself from the pandemic. Its leadership has so far rejected outside medical support. And state media has recommended traditional treatments to deal with what is referred to as “fever”.

For those not seriously ill, ruling-party newspaper Rodong Simnun recommended remedies including ginger or honeysuckle tea and a willow-leaf drink.

Hot drinks might soothe some COVID symptoms, such as a sore throat or cough, and help hydration when patients are losing more fluid than normal. Ginger and willow leaf also relieve inflammation and reduce pain. But they are not a treatment for the virus itself.

State media recently interviewed a couple who recommended gargling with salt water morning and night. A “thousand of tonnes of salt” had been sent to Pyongyang to make an "antiseptic solution", the state news agency reported.

Some studies suggest gargling and nasal rinses with salt water combat viruses that cause the common cold. But there is little evidence they slow the spread of COVID.

Mouthwash could kill the virus in the lab, a study found. But it has not convincingly been shown to help in humans.