Turkmenistan president claims liquorice can cure Covid-19

Turkmenistan president claims liquorice can cure Covid-19
Authoritarian Turkmen president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has claimed that liquorice can cure coronavirus in the latest in a series of erratic botanical pronouncements
2 min read
26 December, 2020
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov is known for his erratic medical pronouncements [Twitter]

Well-known for his baffling botanical pronouncements, Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov claimed Saturday that liquorice could cure coronavirus, the latest supposed miracle cure in a country still claiming zero cases.

"Scientists from every country are looking for effective cures, running various studies, and one of them could be liquorice root," the leader of the authoritarian country, which was part of the Soviet Union until 1991, told ministers.

Without citing any scientific evidence, former dentist Berdymukhamedov claimed that "liquorice stops the coronavirus from developing" and "even a weak concentration of a water-based extract has a neutralising effect."

Turkmenistan has "sufficient reserves" of liquorice, he added, ordering the National Academy of Sciences to study the plant's supposed health effects.

Berdymukhamedov had already in March recommended that people "systematically" burn wild rue, a strong-smelling plant believed to have medicinal properties, to combat the coronavirus, sending prices skyrocketing.

The leader has a long history of moves aimed at boosting his Muslim-majority country's fauna and flora.

While global health authorities have long recommended wearing masks, social distancing and regular hand-washing to slow the spread of the virus, it took a July visit from a World Health Organization delegation for Turkmenistan to adopt the measures.

But the government still justifies mask-wearing as protection against "dust" and unspecified "pathogens", rather than coronavirus.

Non-food shops and restaurants have been closed since summer and bus and train timetables trimmed back.

The country also maintains that it has detected zero cases - even after Britain's ambassador to Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat reported he had contracted Covid-19.

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