President Ahn Kyung-su from DPRKHEALTH.ORG
COVID-19 has been officially mentioned for the first time on May 12 by North Korean authorities, but I don’t believe there have been no cases of COVID-19 in North Korea so far. It is difficult to trust the statistics that North Korea has publicly revealed.
Even though the statistics may not be accurate, we can still grasp the COVID-19 situation of North Korea to some extent. Therefore, it is true that there are confirmed cases of Omicron and BA.2 infections in North Korea, that patients are showing fever symptoms, and that COVID-19 tests are being conducted on them.
Although the COVID-19 situation is said to be the last phase around the world, the COVID-19 situation in China has recently been very urgent. large cities have been strongly blocked due to the zero-COVID policy in China. North Korea is also closely monitoring the Lockdowns of large cities under China’s zero-COVID policy. Accordingly, the North Korean authorities need to call for the awakening of North Korean people and staff in charge of quarantine.
Therefore, I think North Korean authorities announced COVID-19 outbreak news to give pressure or awakening to the their residents and quarantine staffs at the end of the COVID-19 phase.
By announcing the outbreak of COVID-19 patients for the first time officailly, I think it was intended to support Covid vaccine or pills to some extent. Especially I think North Korea wants to receive support for the Covid pill such as Paxlovid rather than a vaccine from international organizations including the United States.
This is because drugs are much simpler in terms of transportation, distribution and management personnel than vaccines.
And North Korea cannot benefit much from vaccines under the current circumstances. Even if vaccines are imported from outside, it seems very late considering the transportation and distribution process, the time required for medical personnel training, and the time it takes for vaccines to be effective after inoculation. Therefore, North Korea would prefer to receive support for Covid pills.
Omicron and BA.2 variant are very infectious as they are known. Obviously, due to the nature of the Omicron and BA.2 variant, I expect the number of confirmed infectious cases to increase significantly in North Korea. However, since the Omicron and BA.2 variant has a low fatality rate as it is known, I believe that the crisis will be overcome well if the North Korean authorities properly manage and treat patients.
North Korea, of course, is relatively lacking in medical equipment, quarantine supplies, and testing abilities compared to other countries. By the way, I believe North Korea has been testing COVID-19 in large cities since 2020 and has been well prepared for its own COVID-19 quarantine until now.
It’s important to remember that North Korea is currently in between seasons, which has a huge temperature variation between day and night. During the change of seasons, cold symptoms such as fever, body aches, and cough occur a lot among people, and such symptoms are similar in the case of omicron and BA.2 variant.
This means that not all patients with fever in North Korea are infected with COVID-19. So, I disagree with some experts and the media who are predicting a disaster in North Korea by assuming all those with fever are infected with COVID-19.