Coronavirus – North Korea: South Korea says it is ready to offer assistance to Pyongyang

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Conduct working group level talks with North Korea in order to help its neighboring country deal with the former confirmed coronavirus outbreak offered the Ministry of Unification of South Korea.

The ministry, which is in charge of maintaining relations between the two Koreas, said it had said it was ready to offer medical equipment and medicines, from vaccines to test kits, as well as technical co-operation.

The official North Korean news agency KCNA reported on Sunday (15/5) another eight deaths due to “fever” in North Korea, four days after the official announcement of the first cases of the new coronavirus in the isolated country.

Meanwhile the leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un criticized today, Monday (16/5) the country’s health authorities for the way they manage the epidemic, which has already cost the lives of 50 people, and ordered the immediate mobilization of the army, according to the same img.

At the same time, the North Korean leader, as broadcast by the Athenian News Agency, strongly criticized the government and the public health sector for their irresponsible attitude.

Kim Jong Un protests loudly because pharmacies did not carry out his order

Kim Jong Un during a special meeting of the Politburo yesterday strongly protested against the fact that the pharmacies did not carry out the order to remain open 24 hours a day, while the people in charge of the supply of medicines “have not rolled up their sleeves and they correctly assessed the current crisis “.

He also ordered the army to “immediately stabilize the supply of medicines” in Pyongyang.

The North Korean leader has personally taken up the fight against the epidemic, which he says has caused “great unrest” in the country, whose population is not vaccinated against covid-19.

Kim Jong Un oversees the Politburo’s extraordinary meetings, which take place almost daily, and the country’s media have broadcast photos of him from a visit to a Pyongyang pharmacy on Sunday.

Κιμ Γιονγκ ΟυνΚιμ Γιονγκ ΟυνKim Jong Un

They talk about “fever” and not about coronavirus

Despite widespread lockdowns, 1,213,550 people in North Korea have been infected with the coronavirus and 50 have died while 564,860 are receiving treatment, KCNA reported, which does not mention covid-19, but speaks of “fever”.

The country’s health system ranks 19th out of 195 countries, according to a report by Johns Hopkins University last year. The country’s hospitals do not have sufficient equipment, while the intensive care units are few. According to experts, North Korea has no cure for covid-19 and does not have the ability to perform mass tests on its population.

Zero covid

North Korea has been completely cut off from the rest of the world for more than two years to protect itself from the pandemic. However, experts estimated that it was inevitable that the virus would enter the country given the outbreaks due to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus that had appeared in neighboring countries.

According to the KCNA, Kim Jong Un expressed his intention to be inspired by the Chinese strategy to deal with the pandemic.

China is one of the last countries in the world to follow the “zero covid” policy, which consists of imposing a generalized lockdown after detecting even a few cases, carefully tracking contacts and isolating patients.

North Korea has in the past refused China’s offer to provide vaccines against covid-19, and did not join the World Health Organization’s Covax program, but Beijing and Seoul again extended their hand.

According to Yang Moujin, a professor of North Korean Studies at Seoul University, Pyongyang may need help to deal with the epidemic, but what China will offer may not be enough.

“If China’s help is not enough to deal with the pandemic, North Korea will need to ask for help. South Koreathe US or international organizations “, he estimated.

“But the timetable will be decisive. “I believe that the outcome of South Korea’s meeting with the United States on May 21 will be an important criterion for North Korea to decide whether or not to accept South’s assistance.”

US President Joe Biden is expected to visit Seoul later this week to meet with South Korea’s new president, Yoon Sok-gel.

Despite the health crisis, new satellite images show that North Korea has resumed construction of a long-suspended nuclear reactor. Washington and Seoul suspect Pyongyang is preparing for a nuclear test, which will be the seventh in its history and the first after 2017.

In this context, the acceptance of South Korean aid could be considered a blow to the prestige of the North Korean regime and force it not to proceed with the nuclear test, said Cheong Seong-zhang, a researcher at the Sejong Institute.

“If Kim Jong Un is determined to proceed with the test, he will not accept South Korea’s help,” he added.

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Source: News Beast

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