On Tuesday, the North Korean authorities reported a new increase in patients with "fever", as covid is called here, writes The Guardian . The fact that the country recorded the first cases of coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic became known last Thursday. Since then, about 1.7 million people have fallen ill, and the total number of deaths has reached 62 people. At the same time, official statistics certainly do not reflect the true strength of the outbreak, since the country is sorely lacking tests and resources to monitor and treat patients, and Kim Jong-un's subordinates may hide the extent of the epidemic from him for fear of reprisals. In countries with high vaccination rates, the current dominant omicron has caused far fewer deaths than previous strains. In North Korea, things can go according to a more difficult scenario.
Experts believe that the spread of covid could provoke a humanitarian crisis in isolated North Korea. With a complete lack of vaccinations, chronic malnutrition and a lack of intensive care hospitals, North Korea's 26 million citizens could be extremely vulnerable to the disease. North Korea is one of only two countries in the world (the other being Eritrea) that have rejected global vaccine sharing initiatives. At first, recognition of the emergence of covid was interpreted as an SOS signal, however, both the WHO proposal to supply millions of doses of vaccines and South Korea's proposal to send medicines and medical personnel were silenced by North Korea. According to experts, Kim Jong-un considers a significant number of diseases and deaths a lesser evil than opening borders for international observers.
According to an anonymous communist party member from North Hamgyong Province, Koreans still go to work and markets, they were only ordered to wear double masks. People are more worried about being locked up at home and starving to death than they are about getting infected, the source said.
State media portray the virus as an enemy that can be overcome with quarantine, masks and folk remedies. The local news agency KCNA reported that army medical units delivered a kind of "elixir of life" to pharmacies. On television, residents are advised to gargle with salt water, drink a decoction of willow leaves and ginger tea. Nevertheless, Kim Jong-un said last Saturday that the current outbreak was the biggest shock to North Korea since its formation in 1948.