North Korea Is Now Dealing With An ‘Acute’ New Stomach Epidemic Amid Covid-19 Cases
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North Korea is facing an outbreak of a highly infectious, unidentified stomach illness in the midst of dealing with the intense spread of Covid-19 in the country.
State media outlet KCNA reports the country’s leader Kim Jong-un has ordered quarantine measures to be implemented whilst medical crews have been dispatched to battle the outbreak.
The disease has been described as an ‘acute enteric epidemic’, however, the media has not disclosed the name of the intestinal disease.
According to a Unification Ministry Background briefing, the South Korean government suspects the disease may be cholera or typhoid fever.
The briefing also noted that South Korean officials have offered to help with the disease but got no response.
Enteric diseases often come about due to consuming contaminated food or water and can easily spread from person to person.
Jo Yong Won, the secretary for the Organisational Affairs of the Party Central Committee told KCNA that over 800 families were suffering from the intestinal disease in areas of South Hwanghae Province.
The province is North Korea’s main agricultural region meaning the country’s food shortage could potentially become worse.
State media outlets have been steadfast in their attempts to convey a sense of generosity on behalf of their leader, with the Pyongyang Times reporting that the General Secretary's own family prepared the medicine for those suffering from the disease.
The news outlet reported: “Haeju citizens shouted ‘Long live Comrade Kim Jong Un!’ and ‘Long live the Workers’ Party of Korea!’ at the top of their voice as they shed tears of gratitude.”
North Korea is also currently suffering from a severe outbreak of Covid-19, however, doesn’t have the proper testing kits to adequately report the cases.
As of Sunday (June 19), the nation reports that more than 4,521,110 persons have caught ‘fever nationwide’ since late April.
They say 4,587,250 people have fully recovered while 33,780 were still undergoing treatment, with the death toll linked to the outbreak at just 73 deaths.
The World Health Organisation fears the situation is much worse, with confirmed numbers of people testing positive for the disease not available to WHO, other than those publicly reported.
WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan said in a video briefing, via Reuters: “We assume the situation is getting worse, not better.”
He added: “We have real issues in getting access to the raw data and to the actual situation on the ground.”
Meanwhile, experts have noted that the current method of testing for Covid-19 in North Korea means it is impossible to catch cases that may not be showing symptoms.
Researcher at the Sejong Institute Cheong Seong-jang told news.com.au: "With the current very backward and inaccurate testing method - which diagnoses Covid-19 based on whether a person has a fever or not - it’s impossible for North Korea to detect asymptomatic infections and contain the outbreak."
The entirety of North Korea's population is unvaccinated, with the rogue state previously tuning down offers of Covid-19 vaccines from China and the World Health Organisation’s Covax scheme.