North Korea’s 1st Corps is suffering from a major outbreak of paratyphoid fever, Daily NK has learned.
The 1st Corps is stationed in Kangwon Province and is considered one of North Korea’s “front line” units. Paratyphoid fever is generally caused by poor sanitary conditions.
The paratyphoid fever outbreak occurred late last month when soldiers in the unit suddenly began suffering from high fevers, diarrhea and other symptoms of the disease. Military medical authorities took measures to treat the soldiers, but their efforts had little effect, according to a Daily NK military source on Monday.
After receiving a report on the situation on June 22, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly called the spread of the disease a threat to the combat readiness of the 1st Corps and ordered the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces (MPAF) to resolve it.
The military’s leadership held an emergency meeting on June 24 to discuss measures to prevent the spread of the disease, according to the source.
A team of military doctors from Pyongyang was reportedly sent to 1st Corps headquarters to confirm the extent of the outbreak in the unit.
The doctors, however, failed to prevent many deaths from the disease. As of June 27, a total of 27 soldiers – including two military drivers who were being hospitalized in an isolation ward in the 1st Corps medical clinic – have reportedly died, according to the source.
The military’s logistics command also reportedly found that the 1st Corps had a shortage of medicines to treat the disease. In response to this shortage, the central government sent over at least 10 boxes of medical supplies from the United Nations to the 1st Corps on June 29. Daily NK was unable to confirm whether these medical supplies were actually from the UN.
The source told Daily NK that military officials believe, however, that the medical supplies will not be effective in treating the disease. Military commanders in the 1st Corps are so concerned about the shortage of medicine that they are calling the homes of sickened soldiers to ask their families to send over medicine.
The 1st Corps also reportedly ordered that coal be delivered to military units and military hospitals. Coal deliveries had stopped in March, but have been restarted with the idea that keeping soldiers warm will make the disease “disappear.”
Military officials in the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th corps are currently engaged in a massive campaign to disinfect various surfaces and other areas on military bases.
The paratyphoid fever outbreak has also spread to families of 1st Corps officers, according to the source. These family members are being forced to fend for themselves because they are not considered a priority for treatment.
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