North Korean authorities recently distributed a set of documents telling people in the country how to detect early signs of COVID-19 and ways to combat the spread of the disease, Daily NK has learned.

“The documents were recently distributed to organizations throughout the country and individual work units and departments have been conducting [educational] sessions based on them,” a Ryanggang Province-based source told Daily NK on May 20. “The documents were released under the title of ‘Let’s Thoroughly Prevent the Spread of the Novel Coronavirus’ as a way to capture people’s attention.”

The documents included an introduction on how to properly wear face masks and detect “early signs” of COVID-19.

According to the documents, the “typical symptoms” of COVID-19 include fevers, tiredness and dry coughs, but there are also cases in which symptoms are more severe or no fever is present. The documents pointed out that sufferers of COVID-19 may experience light symptoms of acute respiratory syndrome, uremic syndrome, acidosis, and blood clotting disorder, and severe symptoms may even lead to death.

One page from a set of North Korean documents recently disseminated in the country describing ways to detect and fight back against COVID-19. / Image: Daily NK

The documents also stressed that it is very important that people wear face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“When putting on a face mask, you must ensure that the mask fits properly around the shape of your nose. Use both hands to shape the mask so it rests about one centimeter below your eyes,” the documents said.

The documents stated that because COVID-19 generally spreads through droplets in the air “you must wear your mask properly” and “use a piece of paper or a handkerchief – not your hand – to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.”

The documents also stressed that people should improve their physical health, suggesting that they can run in the mornings or take part in daily calisthenics. The documents further warned people to avoid eating wild animals or animals that had died of disease, and that all meat, including frozen seafood, along with eggs and even milk should be boiled first before eating.

The documents are being distributed to ordinary households through publication distribution offices located throughout the country, according to the source.

“Efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus have continued over the past several months throughout the country following orders from the Central People’s Public Health Guidance Committee,” the source told Daily NK.

The government is continuing to emphasize the dangers posed by COVID-19 through organized disease control efforts and the distribution of documents describing how people can beat the disease, he added.

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Kang Mi Jin is a North Korean defector turned journalist who fled North Korea in 2009. She has a degree in economics and writes largely on marketization and economy-related issues for Daily NK. Questions about her articles can be directed to