Business Insider Edition

Some governments fight coronavirus in strange ways - including by promoting vodka

James Pasley , Business Insider US
 Apr 03, 2020, 02:10 PM
Sweden has kept its borders open, as well as schools, pubs, and restaurants. It also did not require social distancing. (Getty)
  • Nations around the world are dealing with the novel coronavirus in different ways.
  • Some approaches are novel, like Panama and Peru's policy of splitting people by gender when they go outside to stop the coronavirus from spreading.
  • Other approaches, like the president of Belarus advising people to drink vodka and play ice hockey, are less scientific.
  • As of April 2, there are more than 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 53,000 deaths.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

It's an unprecedented time, but some country's decisions to combat the coronavirus are pretty unusual.

In Turkmenistan, the word "coronavirus" has been banned, and anyone caught wearing a mask can be arrested. In Belarus, unproven advice of vodka and saunas have been promoted by the president as ways to stop the coronavirus.

While in Hungary, the pandemic has been used to propel Prime Minister Victor Orban into a position where only he can say when his rule ends.

As of April 2, there are more than 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 53,000 deaths.

Here are some of the more unusual ways countries are trying to combat the coronavirus.


In Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko told his country of 9.5 million that vodka and saunas were tools to prevent the coronavirus. That hasn't been proven.

While there are currently scientific trials searching for a treatment for the novel coronavirus, there is currently no vaccine for the coronavirus or a known cure.

Measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including stay-at-home orders, social distancing, washing hands with soap and water, avoiding touching your face, and personal protective gear for medical workers, are being used to stem the spread.

Sources: CNN, BBC


He also shared more suspect advice, saying inaccurately that ice hockey was a good way to combat the coronavirus. In a televised interview at an ice hockey rink, he said: "It's better to die standing than to live on your knees."

Sources: CNN, BBC


In Malaysia, the women's ministry advised women to wear makeup at home, avoid sarcasm or nagging their husbands, as well as suggesting they put on the voice of a popular Japanese cartoon cat, during quarantine. After a swift backlash online, the government apologised for the sexist advice and removed the posts.

Sources: NPR, CNN, Reuters


In the Philippines, coffins have been placed out on the road to deter residents from leaving their homes. On top of that, President Rodridgo Duterte said in a televised address that the military and police would shoot any troublemakers breaching lockdown, or harming health workers.

Sources: Business Insider, Business Insider


In Peru and Panama, men and women are being separated by gender when they go out for necessities. In Panama, men can go outside on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, while women can go out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Everyone must remain inside on Sunday.

Source: CNN, Reuters


In Peru, it's the same plan, except the days are the other way around — men can go outside on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while women can go out on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Everyone must remain inside on Saturday.

Source: Reuters


In Turkmenistan, the coronavirus does not officially exist — the government has reportedly banned the word from being used by the state-run media. It's also removed any mention of it from healthcare brochures. If people publicly wear face masks they can be arrested.

Sources: NPR, CBS News


In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban effectively became a dictator after the country passed sweeping a bill that means he can rule by decree without an end date. He also has the power to suspend current laws in the country.

Sources: Business Insider, Business Insider


In Israel, the security service Shin Bet is using counter-terrorism technology on civilians to stop the virus from spreading. The agency is monitoring the cellphone locations of people sick with the coronavirus. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged it was a privacy infringement, but he said that it was acceptable if it slowed the coronavirus.

Sources: Washington Post, USA Today, Business Insider


In Egypt, the government cracked down on a journalist whose reporting conflicted with the official coronavirus cases count. The Guardian reporter was expelled from the country after she reported on a study that said coronavirus cases could be up to 19,000 at the time when the government said there were less than 200 cases.

The study came to its conclusion by analyzing flights, travel data, and infection rates.

Sources: The Guardian, DW


In Serbia, dog walking has been banned to stop the coronavirus from spreading. Previously people were allowed to take their dogs out for 20 minutes. After the ban was imposed, some people were worried about dogs' health, as well as the impact it would have on hygiene in people's homes.

Sources: Fox News, BBC


In Sweden, lockdown measures have been relaxed in contrast to much of Europe. It kept its borders open, as well as schools, pubs, and restaurants. It also did not require social distancing. Swedish epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told The New York Times the laid back approach was appealing to Swedish people's self-restraint and responsibility.

But as of April 1, the government put out a mandate that people were to practice social distancing.

Sources: The New York Times, Business Insider

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