North Korea tells citizens to gargle salt water and drink willow leaf tea to fight Covid

North Korea tells citizens to gargle salt water and drink willow leaf tea to fight Covid
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wears a face mask amid the Covid outbreak, while inspecting a pharmacy in Pyongyang.KCNA via Reuters
  • North Korea has instructed citizens to gargle salt water, among other home remedies, to treat Covid.
  • The country, which is unvaccinated, is struggling to deal with an "explosive" Covid outbreak.

North Korea has instructed its citizens to gargle salt water to treat Covid, as the unvaccinated country struggles to deal with an "explosive" outbreak of the virus.

"Traditional treatments are the best!" a woman told state broadcasters in a televised interview this week, per Reuters. She claimed that her children gargle salt water twice a day.

Salt water is only one of several home remedies that the country has recommended in its fight against the virus, the news agency added.

Residents have also reportedly been advised to drink willow leaf — an herbal remedy traditionally used to relieve fever symptoms — three times a day, per Reuters.

An elderly resident said in a televised interview that ginger tea helped fight Covid, per Reuters. She said she was "first scared by Covid," but it turned out to be "not a big deal" after following doctors' advice.


North Korea appears to have a potentially disastrous Covid crisis at hand, given the country's limited testing capabilities, flawed healthcare system, and the fact that its population is unvaccinated.

The country is only one of two — the other being Eritrea — to have rejected global vaccine-sharing initiatives.

As of Tuesday, the reclusive nation has recorded more than 1.7 million cases of "fever" and 62 deaths from it, according to the state media outlet Korean Central News Agency.

According to the BBC, North Korea has yet to refer to this "fever" outbreak as COVID-19, as poor testing capabilities have hindered its ability to diagnose cases.

Experts have warned that the country's actual number of Covid infections is likely far higher than the reported figures.


Last Saturday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said that the Covid outbreak in the country is its most significant "turmoil" since its founding in 1948.