Ryanggang Province accelerates disease control efforts

Ministry of Public Health officials from Pyongyang are reportedly making the rounds at hospitals and clinics in the region

disease control kimchi
Doctors at a hospital in Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province, discussing ways to deal with ways to deal with the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus. / Image: Rodong Sinmun

North Korean public health officials are making serious efforts to improve disease control procedures at hospitals in Ryanggang Province as the country faces a potential Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, Daily NK sources in the province reported yesterday.

“Ryanggang Province is located right on the border with China, and disease control officials from Pyongyang started coming here on Jan. 31 to check the disease control procedures followed by local hospitals and to inspect medical facilities,” a Ryanggang Province-based source told Daily NK on Feb. 6.

Disease control officials from North Korea’s Ministry of Public Health are reportedly inspecting the quarantine areas of major hospitals and are also confirming whether the hospitals have enough emergency supplies, such as face masks and medicine.

The officials also visited a university hospital in Hyesan, the province’s administrative center, along with the main provincial hospital and the Hyesan Maternity Hospital to ensure that those medical facilities are equipped to deal with an outbreak of the coronavirus, Daily NK sources said.

ON-THE-SPOT INSPECTIONS

Daily NK sources in the province also reported that the disease control officials have maintained a presence at local hospitals as part of efforts to improve the province’s generally poor medical situation.

“Public health officials continue to visit hospitals and clinics wearing face masks and surgical gloves,” another source in the province told Daily NK. “They are working themselves really hard to conduct lectures [with local doctors] and point out areas the facilities need to improve in terms of disease control.”

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A doctor at a hospital in Pyongyang. / Image: Roan Harak, Flickr, Creative Commons

“One of the three public health officials who are in Ryanggang Province from Pyongyang is inspecting military medical facilities in Kimhungjik and Sinpa counties,” the source said, adding, “The health officials are focused on checking disease control routines at major hospitals at the provincial and county levels.” This inspection included the Kimhyungjik People’s Hospital in Kimhyongjik County, according to the source.

“I thought the [health authorities] inspect here and there for a couple of days and then head back home, but they seem to be taking the government’s efforts to strengthen procedures surrounding disease control seriously,” the source continued.

“Hospitals and maternity wards are realizing the serious of the coronavirus through the inspections conducted by the public health officials, and doctors are fully cooperating with them,” he added.

A FOCUS ON PERSONAL HYGIENE

North Korea has created a central command center made up of high-level officials from the Cabinet and Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK)’s Central Committee to deal with an outbreak and to manage the country’s disease control efforts nationwide.

Rodong Sinmun has continued to report on the outbreak of the coronavirus in China and has even cautioned that people can become infected without showing any symptoms. Government warnings about the coronvirus have raised the level of anxiety about the coronavirus among North Koreans, Daily NK sources reported.

Sources in Ryanggang Province noted that ordinary people are taking measures to protect themselves from a possible infection.

“People here are taking personal hygiene seriously with the knowledge that they’re only hurting themselves if they get sick,” the source said.

“The elite, state officials and families with children are all making sure to wash their hands and wear face masks. Some families are even disinfecting what they need to with hot water and alcohol,” he added.

There have yet to be any reported cases of Wuhan coronavirus infections in Ryanggang Province.

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.