When the whole world was gripped by the coronavirus, there was one country that claimed not to have a single infection: North Korea. At the beginning of the pandemic, the regime expelled all foreigners and closed its borders. From then on, they allegedly lived free of Covid-19 for more than two years.
In the meantime, the situation in the dictatorship has changed abruptly. The country recorded the first corona cases on Thursday – and infections and deaths have exploded since then, as the “Spiegel” writes. Shortly before the weekend, North Korea reported around 350,000 fever infections and six corona deaths. Meanwhile, 56 people are said to have died and 1.48 million infected.
Foreign aid refused
The fact that North Korea actually has an advantage through the vaccines that have already been developed does not help the population there. Because dictator Kim Jong Un (38) vehemently renounces the vaccines. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the state is the only one besides Eritrea that has not yet started a vaccination campaign.
Other countries have already offered assistance to North Korea. For example, China wanted to hand over three million vaccine doses to North Korea last year. Kim Jong Un refused at the time, saying the vaccines should be given to “countries in need”.
Healthcare system ranked 193 out of 195
According to the WHO, the dictatorship also has too few corona tests. So far, only about 64,000 tests have been carried out. This makes it all the more difficult to get a realistic overview of the situation. Because the health system in North Korea is likely to be overloaded quickly. In a corresponding ranking from 2021, the state was ranked 193 out of 195.
A doctor who fled North Korea reports that the intensive care units in the country are also a problem. These are “extremely rare” and only available in the capital Pyongyang. In order to keep the population away from the hospitals, North Korean state television is now advertising natural remedies. For example, residents should gargle salt to stay healthy.
Kim Jong Un has mobilized the military
In addition to unusual methods, North Korea has now taken the only measure that was left: a lockdown. But the numbers from neighboring China show that even an extremely tough lockdown can hardly stop the Omicron variant.
Kim Jong Un has also mobilized the military to respond to the exploding number of cases. Because according to him, the corona virus is the “biggest turmoil” that the country has experienced since its foundation. The North Koreans must now hope that their regime will accept help that has already been offered, for example, by South Korea. In what is probably the most isolated country in the world, people urgently need ventilators, medicines and vaccines. (obf)