The outbreak in an agricultural area occurred as the impoverished country faced COVID-19 and food shortages.
North Korea has reported an outbreak of an unspecified gastrointestinal disease in the southwestern part of the country as the country continues to face a wave of COVID-19 that has put a strain on its already dilapidated health system.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said an unspecified number of people were suffering from “acute intestinal epidemic”. It doesn’t define disease, but “enteric” refers to the gastrointestinal tract
In one photo, leader Kim Jong Un has sent medicine to the port city of Haeju in South Hwanghae province to help deal with the outbreak.
“(Kim) emphasized the need to contain the epidemic as soon as possible by taking strict measures to isolate suspected cases to radically limit its spread, confirming the cases synthesized through epidemiological examination and scientific tests,” KCNA said.
An official at South Korea’s Unification Ministry, the agency in charge of inter-Korean affairs, said Seoul was monitoring the outbreak, which is suspected to be cholera or typhoid.
The latest outbreak comes as the North continues to battle COVID-19.
Pyongyang claims a state of emergency virus after daily confirmed cases in the mostly unvaccinated population rose to nearly 393,000. According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, on Thursday, the number of “fever” cases was just over 26,000.
South Korean experts say waterborne diseases, such as typhoid, are already common in North Korea, but the latest outbreak is coming at a time when the country’s dilapidated health system has broken down. stress with COVID-19.
“Intestinal diseases such as typhoid and shigellosis are not particularly new in North Korea but what is worrisome is that it occurs at a time when the country is struggling with COVID-19,” said Professor Shin Young-jeon at the University of Hanyang Medical said. Seoul.
South Hwanghae Province is North Korea’s main agricultural region, raising concerns about the possible impact on food supplies in a country where many people are starving.
In 2021, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program revealed that 10.9 million North Koreans (42.4% of the population) are food insecure and need urgent help.
Pyongyang has described its COVID-19 cases as “febrile patients”, apparently due to a lack of test kits. The World Health Organization casts doubt on North Korea’s claims that the outbreak is easing, and warns that cases are underreported and the situation could get worse.
More than 4.5 million cases have been reported since the end of April and the official death toll is 73.