North Korean officials are suggesting that the country can “beat COVID-19” over the next month with exhaustive disease control efforts, Daily NK sources have reported.

Throughout North Korea, efforts to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus are taking place alongside the country’s “sanitation period,” which is aimed at beautifying the country and occurs annually in March.

“Disinfection vehicles and officials carrying out disinfection gear are seen all over the place,” a South Hamgyong Province-based source told Daily NK on Mar. 9. “The central authorities have increased the number of disease control workforce to help ease the burden of those already in the field.”

He added that it was “lucky that disinfectant developed by a hospital in Pyongyang is being supplied to disease control officials outside of Pyongyang.”

The source further reported that public buildings are being disinfected every other day and that certain factories are acquiring their own gear to disinfect their facilities.

North Korean state media has boasted that 30,000 disease control workers have been organized throughout the country to take part in disinfection campaigns. Media reports from the country also claim that the authorities are conducting educational sessions for the population about how to deal with the coronavirus.

“The officials at the sessions are saying that there are fewer cases of coronavirus infections in China to give hope to people,” the source said. “They are emphasizing that the next month is very important [for beating back the disease].”

China reported on Mar. 7 that the number of daily new infection cases had fallen below 50 for the first time.

In contrast, sources in Hamhung, a port city in South Hamgyong Province, reported that there is still no comprehensive information about how many infections have occurred in North Korea.

Even people who are suffering from seasonal colds, the flu or even just a fever are being quarantined in their houses, sources said.

Those who suffer from these symptoms for more than four days are reportedly taken to a special facility to be observed by medical staff for one month.

“The families of those who have been quarantined in the facilities must report their own health status to local medical staff,” one source in the city added.

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

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Kang Mi Jin
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 dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.