With North Korea emphasizing “super-class” quarantine measures against COVID-19, the country’s authorities are erecting quarantine stations at the entrance of local markets.

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Monday that “new anti-epidemic stations” were erected at markets in Hoeryong and elsewhere late last year “in accordance with orders from above.” He said the stations were opened at market entrances “to check temperatures and disinfect hands.”

According to the source, market management offices have been entrusted with operating the quarantine stations. Management officials have been mobilized into teams of three to carry out quarantine activities wearing white surgical gowns.

They are shepherding merchants and customers entering the market to check their temperature as they stay two meters apart. The officials are also continuously cautioning people in the market against standing too close to one another.

The quarantine stations also have signs with quarantine rules and propaganda slogans calling on everyone to join the “battle to stop the coronavirus.” 

covid quarantine
Disease control officials testing drivers for COVID-19 symptoms in Pyongyang’s Manggyongdae District. / Image: Rodong Sinmun

Moreover, North Korean authorities have created COVID-19 quarantine stations at law enforcement agencies such as city branches of the Ministry of Social Security, as well as at factories and other workplaces. At these stations, which opened from Jan. 7, watchmen or security guards check the temperatures of employees as they arrive or leave and make sure they are wearing masks.

Since last year, North Korea has been expanding the number of local quarantine stations and has continued to restrict movement between regions. The country’s disease control-related guidelines have gotten even tougher recently. Even individuals who must travel for special reasons are now forced to submit travel papers as well as confirmation they have been tested for COVID-19.

The source said North Korean authorities are “gradually broadening quarantine efforts against the virus, erecting quarantine stations even in ordinary places like markets and workplaces.”

Accordingly, North Koreans are becoming less and less confident that, despite official claims to the contrary, the country has no cases of COVID-19. People harbor suspicions, asking how the authorities are going to weed out the infected with only thermometers, which seems to suggest that the authorities lack the medical equipment needed to detect the virus.

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