Yanggang Province’s party committee recently held a lecture for officials in charge of constructing concrete walls and high-voltage wires along the Sino-North Korean border. The lecture emphasized that the officials should strengthen their “quarantine efforts.”

A source in Yanggang Province told Daily NK on Monday that the provincial party apparatus gathered officials from military units stationed in Kimjongsuk, Kimhyongjik and Taehongdan counties and other towns along the Sino-North Korean border – as well as party officials from government organizations, enterprises and universities who have temporarily mobilized workers for the construction – for a lecture regarding quarantine efforts on Sept. 2.

With the global COVID-19 pandemic refusing to die down, North Korean officials appear to be very concerned about disease control efforts in regions that border China.

The meeting, which was run by the head of the provincial party committee’s propaganda department, was held after the country’s Central Committee ordered a strengthening of quarantine efforts along the border — deemed the “gateway of the infectious disease [COVID-19].”

Meeting participants were told that failed quarantine efforts in Yanggang Province in the past had resulted in “dozens of people” falling ill with high fevers, nausea and other symptoms. The lecturer said this situation had been reported to the Central Committee, causing “distress” among the leadership. Participants were also told that Yanggang Province’s quarantine efforts are the “weakest” in the country.

Meeting attendees were further told that they “need to understand the meaning and importance of the construction of the wall and high-voltage wires” along the border “as a manifestation of the party’s desire to protect the people from outside threats.” The lecturer further stressed the need to find even “small flaws” in quarantine efforts and take appropriate measures.

North Korean soldiers seen constructing fences along the border last year. / Image: Daily NK

The attendees were instructed to step up quarantine efforts by replacing disease control workers with “disease control experts” from within the province or to organize “intensive lectures” to exhort local party officials and administrators working to prevent the spread of the disease. 

Meeting participants were also ordered to establish a “new, all-encompassing disinfection routine” to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Officials must now ensure that construction workers, work tools, drinking water, industrial water, and work clothes undergo a disinfection process for one hour each morning and evening while work on the wall and wires continues. 

Construction sites are now required to have one “quarantine promotion officer” equipped with “disease control-related tools” for every 30 people. These quarantine promotion officials must record in detail their disinfection efforts every 30 minutes to show they are engaging in sanitation and disinfection activities during work hours.

To certify they have performed the day’s quarantine efforts in a responsible manner, managing officials from each construction unit must also receive signatures from the party secretary, Ministry of State Security, Ministry of Social Security and even the chief quarantine officer before they go home for the day.

The source said meeting participants were also told to establish a system to report bolstered quarantine efforts to provincial officials, with the province in turn giving updates to the country’s Central Emergency Anti-Epidemic Headquarters. During the meeting, the lecturer reportedly warned that, with this new system in place, Yanggang Province “must not be seen to fail again in its quarantine efforts.”

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.