North Korean authorities are working hard to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) into the country, but Daily NK sources speculate that COVID-19 infections have already appeared deep inside North Korea.

Most COVID-19 infection cases have reportedly occurred in areas near the Sino-North Korean border, such as Sinuiju and the Rason Special Economic Zone, although several have cropped up in the country’s capital of Pyongyang as well.

Some infection cases, however, have reportedly occurred in Haeju, South Hwanghae Province, which is some 300 kilometers away from the Sino-North Korean border.

Daily NK reported yesterday that sources had confirmed that two people had died in the city after suffering from symptoms similar to those associated with COVID-19. Seven other people in the city have also reportedly been placed into quarantine.

“The Haeju outbreak started from a travelling wholesaler with a container truck,” a North Korean source told Daily NK on Feb. 28. “The local authorities believe that the spread of the virus started from his house.”

The authorities believe that the man, who runs a wholesale business in Haeju selling home electronics, foodstuffs, and cosmetics, had recently visited the Sino-North Korean border region and became infected with the virus.

“The authorities have confirmed that the wholesaler traveled to Sinuiju before the country went into lock down,” the source said. “He may have become infected in the city.”

Sinuiju is located right across the Yalu River from the Chinese city of Dandong, which has thus far confirmed seven cases of COVID-19 infections. The city also accepted large numbers of Chinese tourists up until the shutdown of the Sino-North Korean border in late January.

Daily NK has reported that Sinuiju has largely failed in its disease control efforts and has speculated that a COVID-19 outbreak may have already occurred.

Reports from Daily NK sources throughout North Korea suggest that up to 23 people may have already died of COVID-19 infections, while another 82 people have been placed under quarantine.

Daily NK’s sources in North Korea report that at least 23 people have died of COVID-19 infections while another 82 are currently being quarantined. Sources in South Hwanghae Province report that two people have died with another seven in quarantine. Sources in North Hamgyong Province report that two people have died and another 15 have been quarantined. Sources in North Pyongan Province have reported that at least 12 people have died with another 44 people in quarantine. / Graphic: Daily NK journalist Kim Song Il

North Korea has yet to officially confirm an outbreak of COVID-19.

Kim Hyung Hun, the vice minister of the country’s public health ministry, told the Chosun Sinbo, a newspaper run by the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, on Feb. 27 that North Korea has not had any COVID-19 infections.

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