October 4, 2022

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Severe wave in North Korea

For a few days, North Korea is facing a severe wave of the Corona virus, but the news regarding the situation in the country is very incomplete and partial due to the regime’s strict control of the media. And between Saturday and Sunday, the country confirmed at least 15 deaths and discovered hundreds of thousands of cases of fever and other symptoms, but without being able to confirm the causes. North Korea lacks tests to check for coronavirus infections, just as there are not enough resources to treat severe COVID-19 cases in hospitals.

Nearly two years ago, the North Korean regime claimed that it had not detected any cases of coronavirus in the country, thanks in part to severe restrictions on entering its borders. The lack of infections has been repeatedly reported by the media, which are all state-owned and under strict government control, for propaganda and putting dictator Kim Jong Un in a good light.

The coronavirus wave in North Korea appears to have started at the end of April and is now affecting an increasingly large part of the country’s population. According to official data, at least 42 people have so far died of “fever” and died Found In all, about 820,000 cases of people have symptoms compatible with COVID-19.

Disinfection of a grocery store in Pyongyang, North Korea (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)

According to many experts, the lack of tests makes it impossible to accurately detect the epidemic, and this may have serious consequences, especially given the high percentage of people without symptoms, which can contribute to the spread of the Corona virus and an increase in infections. .

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There is no official news on North Korea’s vaccination rate, but most of the country’s 26 million people are believed to have not received a single dose. Despite propaganda – which spoke of mobilizing more than a million people and strengthening the health system – North Korean hospitals have very few resources and do not provide adequate services, especially in rural areas. International health organizations and institutions believe that without sending in vaccines, tests and medicines there could be a significant number of deaths from COVID-19 in the coming weeks.

I work in a rice field in North Korea (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)

In an effort to contain the spread of infection, the regime on Thursday 12 May imposed a strict nationwide lockdown. Kim Jong-un has described the current epidemic as a “great ordeal” and asked residents to work together to keep it under control as quickly as possible. People with fever or other symptoms are being isolated, but it is not clear if there are enough quarantine centers in the country and there are doubts about the sanitation of existing centers. According to the regime-controlled Central News Agency, nearly 500,000 people have recovered since the beginning of the epidemic, while more than 300,000 are still infected.

Kim Jong-un argued that the situation should improve in the coming days, because the communities where the infection occurred are relatively isolated and should not cause it to spread to areas where the disease is not present. However, there were no data to support these statements and there are concerns about the country’s economy, which has been facing deep difficulties for years due to the economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations, especially with regard to the program to develop launch systems and ICBMs. North Korean weapons.

An ICBM launch from North Korea on March 24 (Korean Central News Agency via Associated Press)

In recent days, China and South Korea have indicated their willingness to send vaccines, medicines and other resources to North Korea, but for now the regime has not responded (at least publicly) to the offers. Previously, Kim Jong-un rejected the UN’s COVAX program’s offer to receive millions of doses of the vaccine, arguing that it could cause side effects and that he did not want to rely on outsiders to manage the epidemic.

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