North Korea is in the throes of Covid-19. However, the secrecy of the nation and its cut-off status from the world is casting serious doubts in the minds of experts about the country's 'virus figures' (which it has revealed for the first time) or how premier Kim Jong Un's leadership is dealing with it.
The country said Friday that nearly 10% of its 26 million people have fallen ill and 65 people have died amid its first Covid-19 outbreak, as outside experts question the validity of its reported fatalities and worry about a possible humanitarian crisis.
After admitting the omicron outbreak last week following more than two years of claiming to be coronavirus-free, North Korea has said an unidentified fever has been explosively spreading across the country since late April. Its anti-epidemic center has since released fever tallies each morning via state media, but they don't include any Covid-19 figures.
Is North Korea Underreporting Fatalities?
Some observers say North Korea was likely forced to acknowledge the COVID-19 outbreak because it couldn't hide the highly contagious viral spread among its people and suffer possible public discontent with leader Kim Jong Un. They believe North Korean authorities are underreporting mortalities to try to show that its pandemic response is effective, while the country lacks test kits to confirm a large number of virus cases.
"It's true that there has been a hole in its 2 1/2 years of pandemic fighting," Kwak Gil Sup, head of One Korea Center told the Associated Press, a website specializing in North Korea affairs. "But there is a saying that North Korea is 'a theater state,' and I think they are massaging Covid-19 statistics."
'Plan B and Plan C'
Kwak said North Korea is likely partly using the outbreak as a propaganda tool to show that it is overcoming the pandemic with Kim's leadership. But the country has "a Plan B" and "a Plan C" to seek Chinese and other foreign aid if the pandemic gets out of hand, he said.
On Friday, the North's state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters said 263,370 more people had feverish symptoms and two more people died, bringing the total fever cases to 2.24 million and fatalities to 65. They said 754,810 people remain quarantined, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.
How Did the Outbreak Originate?
The outbreak likely originated from an April 25 military parade in Pyongyang that Kim organized to show off his new missiles and loyal troops. The parade and other related festivals, which marked North Korea's army foundation anniversary, drew tens of thousands of people and soldiers from Pyongyang and other parts of the country, who returned home after the events.
South Korea's spy agency told lawmakers Thursday that "a considerable number" of the fever cases reported by North Korea include people sick with waterborne diseases like measles, typhoid and pertussis.
The National Intelligence Service assessed that those diseases had already been spreading across North Korea even before Covid-19 broke out, according to Ha Tae-keung, a lawmaker who attended a private NIS briefing. Ha cited the NIS as saying the waterborne diseases were spreading due to shortages of medicines and medical supplies in the wake of the North's previous long-running anti-pandemic steps.
"(The NIS) said it doesn't know exactly what percentage of the fever cases are coronavirus patients. It said North Korea lacks coronavirus diagnostic kits but appears to have sufficient thermometers," Ha said.
The NIS has a spotty record in confirming developments in North Korea. Some civilian medical experts earlier said they believed most of the fever cases announced by North Korea were COVID-19.
On Monday, when the North's fever cases had already surpassed 1.2 million, Ryu Yong Chol, an official at Pyongyang's anti-virus headquarters, said on state TV that the government had detected 168 Covid-19 cases as of last Saturday. There have been no updates on the North's virus cases since then.
Announcement Likely Meant to 'Solidify a Tired Public'
Ahn Kyung-su, head of DPRKHEALTH.ORG, a website focusing on health issues in North Korea, said Pyongyang had likely determined its omicron outbreak won't cause catastrophic fatalities but disclosed it to prevent potential public unrest. He said North Korea's increased anti-virus measures are partly meant to solidify its control of a public tired of previous restrictions and other difficulties.
"North Korea's pandemic response isn't completely staged as people are dying. But it's obvious that its leadership's political intentions have been added there," Ahn said. "One day, they'll proclaim their victory over COVID-19 in a colorful manner."
North Korea's public medical system remains in shambles, and experts say the country could suffer mass pandemic fatalities if it doesn't receive outside aid shipments. They say the country's elevated restrictions on movement and quarantine rules may also worsen its food insecurity.
The NIS said North Korea intends to overcome the pandemic with assistance from its main ally, China, according to Ha and Kim Byung-kee, another lawmaker who was briefed by the spy service. During an anti-virus meeting Saturday, Kim said his country faces "a great upheaval" and that officials must study how China and other nations have handled the pandemic.
Some media reports said North Korea already sent planes to China to bring back emergency supplies earlier this week, but the South Korean government said it couldn't confirm the reports. South Korea said it and the United States have offered to ship vaccines, medicines and other medical supplies to North Korea, but the North hasn't responded.
The Soft-spoken 'North Korea's Fauci'
A little-known official, soft-spoken Ryu Yong Chol, has become the public face of the isolated country's battle against the epidemic, the equivalent of U.S. COVID-19 czar Dr Anthony Fauci or the director of South Korea's disease prevention agency, Jeong Eun-kyeong.
Ryu works for the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters, KCNA has reported, which appears to be newly set up to tackle COVID. Like its South Korean equivalent, the North Korean agency holds daily briefings, chaired by Ryu, though without questions from reporters.
Ryu, dressed in a suit and with horn-rimmed glasses, comes across as sensible and to-the-point, uncommon qualities on North Korea's tightly controlled television better known for the histrionics of its announcers and fawning military commanders.
"We should strengthen efforts to control and isolate every and each infected person without exception so as to thoroughly eliminate any spaces where the infectious disease can spread," Ryu said on Friday, urging "guarding against loopholes".
With inputs from Associated Press and Reuters.
- Dennis Rodman hopes to do 'something pretty positive' in North Korea
- Explainer: Why have North Korea-U.S. denuclearization talks stalled?
- What does it take to get an American released from North Korea?
- Govt’s plans on nation-wide NRC is a conspiracy says AAP
- Things Aren’t Looking Good For The Four Americans Detained In North Korea
- Donald Trump shakes hands with Kim Jong-un as he becomes first US president ever to set foot in North Korea
- Doctor: No Evidence To Support North Korea’s Explanation For Comatose College Student
- The Kim Jong Nam murder trial: Who's who?
- News Whiplash and a Sense of History in the Making in South Korea
- S. Korea’s Moon calls for talks to end trade row with Japan
- Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo epidemic may be 33% HIGHER than official figures because people avoid treatment centres, expert claims
- Can Beetles Paint? Meet Spike The Stag Beetle Who Is Winning Hearts With His Paintings
|Ice-Watch - Ice-Style - Black - Big (48mm) Silicone Quartz Mens Analog Watch - IS.BKR.B.S.133.0★ / check it now at Amazon||Genuine Vintage Italy Leather Case for Iphone 5c 5s C S Book Wallet Handmade Slim Cover Flip Id$29.99||Roar Korea Diary View Window Leather Skin Case w/ Stand for Sony Xperia Z1 Compact D5503 - Orange check it now at Amazon||North Carolina State - North Carolina State - iPhone 5 & 5s Cargo Case5.0★ / check it now at Amazon||Magellan MapSend North U.S.A. Lakes Freshwater Map microSD Card3.0★ / check it now at Amazon||North Dakota State Bison Guard Dog Hybrid Case for iPhone 6 / 6s with Guard Glass Screen Protector - White4.0★ / check it now at Amazon||NCAA North Dakota Fighting Sioux Samsung Galaxy S4 Case Cover4.5★ / check it now at Amazon||Navionics HotMaps Premium North U.S. Two-Dimensional Lake Maps on CF Card1.0★ / check it now at Amazon||Roar Korea Diary View Window Leather Phone Case with Stand for Sony Xperia Z1 Compact D5503 - Rose check it now at Amazon||Iphone 5c Case Ncaa ACC Atlantic Coast Conference North Carolina Tar Heels 3 Apple Iphone Case5.0★ / check it now at Amazon||Melkco - Samsung Galaxy S GT-I9000 / Plus GT-I9001 Ultra Slim Handmade Premium Genuine Cowhide Leather Case Flip Down Type B check it now at Amazon||Cute Lovely 3D TPU Rabbit Korea Rabito Iphone 4 Iphone 4s Case Iphone 4/4s Protect Cover check it now at Amazon||NCAA North Carolina Tar Heels Samsung Galaxy S3 Case Cover check it now at Amazon||NCAA North Carolina Tar Heels iPhone 4 4s Case Hard Silicone Case5.0★ / check it now at Amazon||Case Fun Apple iPhone 5C Vogue Case - Flag of North Korea5.0★ / check it now at Amazon||U of North Dakota - U of North Dakota 02 - iPhone 5 & 5s - LeNu Case5.0★ / check it now at Amazon||Unique2U Lovely Korea Cartoon 3D Owl Soft Silicone Case for Samsung Galaxy S5 S 5 i9600 (Pink) check it now at Amazon||Fashion NCAA North Carolina Tar Heels Apple Iphone 5C Case Cover TPU Helmet Logo check it now at Amazon||NCAA North Dakota Fighting Sioux Samsung Galaxy S3 Case Cover check it now at Amazon||NCAA North Carolina Tar Heels Custom Proctive Custom Case Cover for Iphone 4 4s 4g - 13112306 check it now at Amazon||NCAA North Dakota State Bison Samsung Galaxy S3 Case Cover2.0★ / check it now at Amazon||Insten® TPU Rubber Skin Case Compatible With HTC Desire C, Black S Shape check it now at Amazon||32GB White Samsung Galaxy Note 3 III N900 N9005 Korea S/K LTE-A Smartphone Phone5.0★ / check it now at Amazon||Metro-North Railroad Subway Design IMD Hard Back Case Skin Cover for iPhone 5 5G check it now at Amazon||Rikki KnightTM North Korea Flag Rubber White iPhone Case (with bumper) Cover for Apple iPhone 4 & 4s2.0★ / check it now at Amazon||Kim Jong Il North Korea Millitary 7" Bobblehead in Collector's Box5.0★ / check it now at Amazon||Kim Jong Un North Korea 7" Bobblehead in Collector's Box4.4★ / check it now at Amazon||Tech Deck - Storage Case with Board - Plan B check it now at Amazon||Kim Jong-Un's Things To Nuke Funny Notepad 4.25" x 5.5" Red, North Korea Gag Gift5.0★ / check it now at Amazon||Propaganda Poster Pack - North Korea's Kim Jong-Un & Kim Jong-Il 13"x15" Art Poster Prints4.5★ / check it now at Amazon|
North Korea's Covid Outbreak Is 'Curious' Case: What Is 'Plan B & C', Who's Nation's 'Dr Fauci'? | EXPLAINED have 1856 words, post on www.news18.com at May 20, 2022. This is cached page on USA Posts. If you want remove this page, please contact us.