Vietnamese try homemade remedies to ward off coronavirus

By Pham Nga   February 15, 2020 | 04:18 am PT
Vietnamese try homemade remedies to ward off coronavirus
People in Hanoi wear masks to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus. Photo by VnExpress/Luong Huong.
As the death toll from the novel coronavirus continues to mount globally, some Vietnamese are resorting to unusual ways to protect themselves.

Lan Anh, 21, of northern Hung Yen Province woke up from her nap one afternoon coughing and choking due to heavy smoke. She panicked, shouted for help and rushed out only to see her mother trying to fumigate the house with a homemade concoction.

Thanh, her mother, was boiling water and lebbeck fruit since she had been told this would kill the novel coronavirus (nCoV).

She said: "Everyone bought lebbeck this morning at the market. Some people even bought a couple kilos."

Anh tried to explain there was no cure or vaccine available at the moment to treat pneumonia caused by the coronavirus yet, and people should wash their hands and follow the protective measures recommended by the Ministry of Health.

But Thanh was determined to fumigate at least the living room before stopping.

"For a moment, I thought the neighborhood was on fire since smoke was coming out of every house I passed by," Anh joked.

Minh Trang, 25, of Hanoi's Ha Dong District found herself in a similar situation when her mother made her drink herbal tea from a pack she got from a pagoda, claiming it was great for the immune system.

"My mother cooked water with lemongrass and orange zest and made everyone in the family drink this concoction every morning and whenever we returned home from outside. It was very difficult to drink. My mom always stayed near to make sure I completely finished drinking it.

"At night my mother would also rub medicated oil on her feet and tell me and my sister to follow suit."

A sanitarian worker uses garlic, lemon, alcohol and salt water to make fumigation. Photo courtesy of Phan Tan.

The mixture consists of crushed garlic, lemon juice, saltwater, and alcohol. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Tan.

Phan Ngoc Tan, 32, of Hanoi saw two sanitary workers making "homemade" fumigation solution, with one crushing some garlic and the other concocting the mixture.

He said: "The mixture seemed to consist of crushed garlic, lemon juice, saltwater, and alcohol. I don't know how effective it is, but the smell made me crave food."

Word-of-mouth "remedies" have been passing around ever since the first case of nCoV in Vietnam.

Nguyen Vinh, who has a traditional medicine store in central Da Nang City, said a woman came to buy pure cinnabar, which consists mainly of mercury, to disinfect her house.

"I don't know who instigated her to do this since cinnabar is extremely toxic. Only some places are even licensed to sell it. When burned, it releases pure mercury and sulfur gas, which are poisons and life threatening."

Last Thursday night Nguyen Thi Van, 42, of Thanh Hoa Province's Quang Xuong District received a call from one of her daughters in Hanoi telling her to boil chicken eggs at night and eat them right away since it would help "combat nCoV." So she turned on a light so that her daughter could climb over a wall to her grandmother's chicken coop and fetch some eggs.

The next morning Van cheerfully went to her neighbor, Hong, to tell her about the recently learned "remedy."

Listening to the story, Hong understood why the previous night her husband had boiled eggs and brought them to her bed though she had already slept by then. It turned out that dozens of people in the neighborhood ate eggs that night to fight the disease.

But a few days later the police took in and fined a woman who spread the egg cure for spreading false information.

Nguyen Thanh Hoa, 52, of Hanoi drove from her home in Hoai Duc District to Thai Ha Street in Dong Da District, to get face masks believing they would completely keep the virus at bay.

After a few minutes in line she was given three masks.

As she tried on one, she heard a passerby say: "It is strange people are worried about nCoV but are willing take free face masks from someone who didn't wear gloves."

The number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in Vietnam has reached 16, the latest being a 50-year-old man in northern Vinh Phuc Province.

The global death toll from the epidemic reached 1,523 on Saturday, with 1,520 dying in mainland China, one in the Philippines, one in Hong Kong and one in Japan.

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