N. Korea has quarantined 865 suspected COVID-19 cases

More than 5,000 people released from quarantine facilities in the country may have died, a source speculated

North Korea has quarantined at least 865 people showing symptoms of COVID-19 infections in government-designated facilities across the country, Daily NK has learned.

A report by the country’s central emergency disease control command found that, as of May 30, 865 people had been placed in state-designated facilities after suffering from symptoms ranging from fevers, coughing and breathing issues, a Daily NK source in the country said yesterday.

According to the report, 212 of those quarantined are in North Pyongan Province, 65 in South Pyongan Province, 140 in North Hamgyong Province, 80 in South Hamgyong Province, 123 in Chagang Province, 77 in Ryanggang Province, 32 in South Hwanghae Province, nine in North Hwanghae Province, and 29 in Kangwon Province. There are also 37 people in quarantine facilities in Nampo and another 61 in Rason.

No one in Pyongyang was reported being placed in isolation facilities because any Pyongyang resident suspected of having a COVID-19 infection was moved to quarantine facilities in South Pyongan Province or Nampo Special City, the source told Daily NK.

The report did not account for people with suspected “light” symptoms of the coronavirus who are self-isolating at home; those with COVID-19 symptoms suffering from preexisting medical conditions; or the number of soldiers currently in quarantine. Daily NK’s source said that this suggests there may be many more suspected COVID-19 cases the report failed to take into account.

The 865 people mentioned in the report are currently quarantined in a range of places, including motels, resorts, and education-related facilities. People showing severe symptoms are reportedly being given fever reducers, drugs to treat tuberculosis, and cold medicine. The source said that there were no cases in which these drugs had any effect.

“There’s really no medicines to treat [the disease],” the source told Daily NK. “There’s little chance the medicines would have much effect because they’re just handing them out without much consideration of the severity of the symptoms people are suffering from.”

The quarantine facilities are also failing to provide proper amounts of food, the source said. Some well-to-do people in quarantine have reportedly requested their families to send them food, but bringing in outside food is not always permitted.

There are many cases where people with weak immune systems have died, the source further reported. Around 60% of the people who have been quarantined since the start of the pandemic have been released from isolation facilities and 35% of those released from the facilities have died. If the source’s report is true, more than 5,000 people released from isolation have ended up dying in North Korea.

North Korea still claims that the country has no confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Since January, North Korea has quarantined an accumulated total of more than 15,000 people suffering from fevers, coughing and breathing problems.

The province with the largest number of people quarantined has been North Pyongan Province, given that many of its cities are close to the Chinese border. The province likely faces a greater number of COVID-19 cases because of North Koreans who returned from China and all of those who had contact with them.

Meanwhile, Chagang Province has quarantined a total of 3,280 people while North Hamgyong Province has isolated 2,490 people. South Hamgyong Province has reportedly placed a total of 1,522 people into quarantine facilities.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Jang Seul Gi is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.