North Korea said on Friday that hundreds of families have fallen sick with an illness that affects the intestines but has not yet been recognised. This puts further strain on a health care infrastructure that is already in disrepair because to COVID-19.
Pyongyang made the announcement of its first coronavirus cases a month ago and activated a “maximum emergency epidemic prevention system.” Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, placed himself at the forefront of the government’s reaction.
In spite of this, the virus has caused more than 4.5 million instances of “fever” and 73 fatalities to far, according to numbers that have been released by official media. There are 25 million people in the population that has not been vaccinated against the virus.
In addition to the country’s ongoing problems, the state-run KCNA reported this week that the province of South Hwanghae is experiencing a new “acute enteric outbreak.” Kim Jong Un urged government authorities to “contain the epidemic at the earliest date feasible.”
It has been claimed that Kim Yo Jong, strong sister of Kim Jong Un, was among a group of high officials who personally gave medication to try and assist those in need. This may be seen as a potential indication of how grave the situation is.
According to a story that was published on Friday by the state-run KCNA news agency, the medication would be supplied to “nearly 800 families suffering from the severe epidemic which broke out in various districts of South Hwanghae Province.”
Based on this number, it seems that there have been at least 1,600 persons infected with the gastrointestinal illness.
The stories have given rise to rumours that the sickness, the nature of which has not been identified, may be cholera or typhoid.
If the epidemic is verified, it has the potential to make the country’s already severe food shortages even more severe. South Hwanghae province is one of the most important agricultural districts in the North.
Should the virus continue to spread, experts predict that there will be a serious crisis in terms of public health in the North, which has one of the most inadequate healthcare systems in the world.
The impoverished nation’s hospitals are inadequately equipped, there are few critical care units, and there is neither COVID therapy medications nor the capacity to do mass testing.
An official from Seoul’s Ministry of Unification was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying, “With the North’s considerably antiquated medical infrastructure, an acute bowel disease might flare up at any moment.”
According to the official, South Korea is ready to provide its assistance to North Korea in the event that Pyongyang is interested in accepting such support.
In the past, South Korea made an offer to the North to provide it with medical assistance and vaccinations to assist it in combating the coronavirus epidemic it was experiencing.
Pyongyang has not provided a formal response as of yet.