North Korea reports another outbreak amid COVID-19 wave

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea on Thursday announced an outbreak of another infectious disease in addition to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, saying leader Kim Jong Un had given private medicines to those who were sick. new.

The severity of the new outbreak is still unclear, but some outside observers suggest that North Korea may be aiming to shine a light on Kim’s image as a leader who cares about the public’s livelihood. because he needs greater public support to overcome the difficulties associated with the pandemic.

Read more: COVID-19 has finally crossed the border of North Korea. Here’s What to Know About the ‘Boom’ Outbreak

On Wednesday, Kim delivered his family’s stockpile of medicine to people diagnosed with an “acute intestinal epidemic” in the southeastern city of Haeju, South Korea’s central news agency reported. The North’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper separately published a photo on its front page showing Kim and his wife Ri Sol Ju examining saline solutions and other medicines they had donated.

KCNA did not specify exactly what the epidemic was and how many people were infected.

Some observers say “intestinal epidemic” in North Korea refers to an infectious disease such as typhoid, dysentery or cholera, which are intestinal diseases caused by germs through contaminated food and water. contaminated with or in contact with the feces of an infected person.

Such diseases are frequent in North Korea, where there is a lack of good water treatment facilities and whose public health care infrastructure has largely remained broken since the mid-1990s.

After North Korea last month reported an increase in the number of fever patients following the country’s takeover of the coronavirus outbreak, South Korea’s spy agency said “a significant number” of those cases included fevers. including people with illnesses such as measles, typhoid and whooping cough.

“Outbreaks of measles or typhoid are not uncommon in North Korea. I think it’s true that there was an outbreak of infectious disease there but North Korea is using it as an opportunity to emphasize that Mr. Kim is concerned about his people,” said Ahn Kyung-su, head of state. DPRKHEALTH.ORG, a website specializing in health, said. problems in North Korea. “So it’s more of a political message than a medical message.”

Read more: COVID-19 May Finally forced North Korea to open up

Last month, Kim sent his family’s medicine to COVID-19 patients, according to state media reports.

KCNA said more than 4.5 million of the country’s 26 million people fell ill from an unexplained fever but only 73 died. The country has identified only a fraction of those as confirmed coronavirus cases due to the lack of a clear test kit in the country. Many foreign experts question North Korea’s death toll, saying that is likely underreported to prevent Kim from any political damage at home.

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