North Korea deploy military forces to help contain the outbreak Covid-19 which continues to spread in the isolated country.
The first cases of Covid-19 in North Korea emerged last week after three years of rule by the Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un claimed to have succeeded in preventing the corona virus from entering.
North Korea’s state-run media outlet, KCNA, reported the deployment of military troops to help supply medicine in the capital Pyongyang.
“[Misi tim militer untuk] defuse the public health crisis [di Pyongyang],” said the KCNA report, Tuesday (17/5).
A number of senior members of the North Korean Labor Party visited pharmacy shops and pharmacies across the city to check supply and demand for medicines. The move came after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said drug distribution was ineffective.
“They called for stricter regulations to be made to protect and manage health, while maintaining the principle of putting people’s demands and comforts first,” KCNA was quoted as saying. Reuters.
The majority of drugs distributed in North Korea are painkillers and fever-reducing drugs, such as ibuprofen, amoxicillin and other antibiotics. The drug is said to be ineffective against the Covid-19 virus.
In addition to distributing drugs, the North Korean government also encourages residents to be diligent in maintaining cleanliness and health, such as frequently gargling with salt water.
North Korean authorities also continue to step up efforts tracing coronavirus case. Around 11,000 health officials, teachers, and medical students joined forces to track people who had symptoms of Covid-19 or were in close contact with patients who were positive for the corona virus.
Kim Jong-un also ordered activity restrictions until lockdown in every city and district. However, various sectors of the national economy still maintain production and construction while adhering to Covid-19 prevention measures.
Previously, the World Health Organization (WHO) had warned that Covid-19 would spread widely in North Korea. This is allegedly because the government refuses the vaccine program and international community assistance.
As of Tuesday (16/5) evening, North Korea’s emergency epidemic prevention agency reported 269,519 people had fever symptoms suspected to be related to Covid-19. Meanwhile, 56 people were reported dead.
North Korea has not implemented a vaccination program for its citizens and has only limited testing capabilities for Covid-19.
This raises concerns about how difficult it is to assess how widely and quickly the outbreak is spreading in North Korea, including verifying the number of confirmed cases and deaths.
“The numbers are unreliable, but the number of people with fever is worrying,” said Lee Jae-gap, a professor of infectious diseases at Hallym University School of Medicine.
According to Lee, the death toll will soar over time. But Pyongyang could have been lulled into a low number to avoid a political crisis.
“I don’t think the North Korean regime is capable of releasing a soaring death toll that would hurt public sentiment.”