[이광백 칼럼] North Korea, spreading Corona, request urgent assistance from the international community

North Korea held the 8th Politburo meeting of the 8th Party Central Committee at the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea on the 12th. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un conducts a meeting. /Photo = Rodong Sinmun News 1

Chairman Kim Jong-un has finally admitted that a confirmed case of Corona 19 has appeared.

On the 13th, the North Korean Central News Agency reported that Chairman Kim visited the National Emergency Response Command on the 12th to check the spread of COVID-19 nationwide. According to reports, since the end of April, about 350,000 people have shown symptoms of COVID-19. On the 12th, when the North Korean authorities announced that there were confirmed cases of coronavirus, about 18,000 people across North Korea showed symptoms of fever. North Korean authorities said, “So far, more than 187,800 people have been quarantined and treated, and 6 people (including one confirmed ‘BA.2’) have died.”

North Korean authorities have claimed that there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far. However, Daily NK said, “Based on the internal data of North Korea’s Central Emergency Quarantine Command, as of November 1, 2020, the total number of people in quarantine in North Korea’s quarantine facilities for suspected infectious diseases is 81,000, and as of December 2020, North Korean military infectious diseases The cumulative number of quarantined persons at the quarantine facility was 54,620 (Army 43,000, Navy 6200, Air Force 5420), and the cumulative number of dead 4,180 (Army 2800, Navy 920, Air Force 460) ) was reported. Combining testimonies and reports from North Korean residents, it seems that in 2021 more residents and soldiers will be quarantined or killed due to COVID-19 symptoms than in 2020.

Contrary to the testimony of North Korean residents that there have been residents with symptoms of COVID-19 and deaths from it over the past two years, why did the North Korean authorities, who had denied this, publicly stated that ‘corona 19 confirmed cases have appeared’? First of all, it seems that the number of residents with COVID-19 symptoms has exploded due to the influx of omicron mutations, which spread rapidly. It is evident that they are bewildered by the rapid spread of the virus.

Although Chairman Kim Jong-un said he would “block the radio wave through a preemptive blockade,” it is unclear whether such measures will effectively prevent the spread of Omicron, which has strong radio wave power. Although the mortality rate of the omicron mutation is relatively low, it is also worrisome that the mortality rate is relatively high for North Koreans who have rarely been vaccinated.

North Korea, which does not have an advanced health care system, is implementing control-oriented quarantine policies such as border blocking, city blockade, and movement ban. I am also concerned about the suffering North Koreans will bring about this kind of control. For the past two years, North Korean authorities have blocked several cities along the border for quarantine reasons and banned movement within the city. After the lockdown period of about three weeks, there have been several cases of family members starving to death due to lack of food as well as COVID-19. If the Omicron mutation rapidly spreads and the North Korean authorities take measures to block out cities and ban movement, there are also voices from North Koreans saying that ‘there may be more people dying of starvation than deaths from COVID-19’.

Recently, the battle for rice planting is in full swing in North Korea. Workers and students of city enterprises, as well as party officials, went down to the cooperative farm and started a rice planting battle. The recent rapid spread of the corona virus is likely to become a major obstacle in the battle for rice planting in May, making it difficult to increase food production this fall. The resumption of North Korea-China trade could be delayed. The spread of COVID-19 is expected to prolong the economic stagnation in North Korea and further deepen the food crisis, threatening the right to survival of North Koreans.

The North Korean authorities should face such a situation and request urgent assistance from the international community to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is said that the World Health Organization (WHO) is seeking cooperation in the health sector, such as trying to contact a person in charge of the North Korean Ministry of Health. The South Korean government also announced on the 12th that “Support for North Koreans and inter-Korean cooperation in quarantine and health care can be promoted at any time from a humanitarian perspective.” In fact, a considerable amount of time is required for vaccination. It will take some time for the vaccine to become effective. You must apply for assistance immediately. very late


Source: DailyNK by www.dailynk.com.

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