A North Korean suffering from a high fever died in Pyongyang on Feb. 15, leading the Pyongyang Party Committee to immediately call an emergency disease prevention meeting just 10 minutes into a weekly criticism session, Daily NK has learned.
“During the weekly criticism session on the morning of Feb. 15, the Pyongyang Party Committee called an emergency meeting after hearing about two urgent issues,” a Pyongyang-based source told Daily NK on Feb. 17. “The first issue concerned a man who had returned from abroad and died from a fever, spurring calls to put in place disease control measures.”
The man who died lived in Pyongyang’s Taedonggang District and was in his forties. In 2018 he was sent to Qatar as a construction worker, returning home to North Korea via China in mid-Jan. 2020. He reportedly developed a high fever from the beginning of this month.
After learning about the man’s death, the Pyongyang Party Committee immediately halted the weekly criticism session it was holding and called an emergency meeting. Workers from the Taedonggang District Emergency Disease Control Center also participated in the meeting, sources told Daily NK.
Officials at the emergency meeting agreed to take the following measures: 1) disinfect the deceased man’s house, the stairs and elevator of his apartment building; 2) implement a ban on the around 500 people living in the apartment building from entering the building for three days; and, 3) conduct medical checkups of those living in the apartment for a week and submit reports on the results to the emergency disease control center every day.
DEATH BLAMED ON “ACUTE PNEUMONIA”
Many North Koreans in Pyongyang suspect that the man died of COVID-19, but North Korean authorities have come to a different conclusion, sources said.
“The man’s corpse was sent to a hospital for an autopsy. The doctors concluded that he died from acute pneumonia,” one source said. “That the authorities aren’t blaming it on COVID-19 is strange to many people because the Pyongyang Party Committee went through all the trouble of holding an emergency meeting and ordering disinfection of his house.”
The man’s body was reportedly cremated right after the autopsy and without permission from his family. This is in line with the government’s orders to cremate all dead bodies, as reported by Daily NK earlier this month.
Many people are reportedly bitter about the government’s decision because they have no control over what happens to the bodies of their loved ones.
MUDDY TAP WATER
The Feb. 15 emergency meeting also discussed a serious issue concerning Pyongyang’s water supply.
Muddy water was reportedly flowing through tap water pipes in four neighborhoods of Pyongyang’s Samsok and Ryongsong districts. Local residents resorted to using the water only after letting the dirty sediment sink to the bottom, sources told Daily NK.
The Pyongyang Party Committee reportedly issued a directive that residents in those areas affected “thoroughly manage the situation by boiling the water at above 100℃ before drinking.”
The committee also ordered that “sewage management centers and disease control centers in the areas disinfect and repair the pipes over the course of five days.”
Daily NK sources reported that at least one hospital is full of patients who drank the muddy tap water and who began suffering from fevers and stomach aches.
“The hospital is saying that it’s typhoid fever. But people know that germs can’t survive in the water during the winter, so they don’t really believe that,” one source added.
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