North Korea has reportedly insisted that it is “free from coronavirus" despite global confirmed cases of COVID-19 expected to hit a near-million. A senior health official in Pyongyang claimed that the isolated nuclear-armed country “does not have a single case” of the novel disease, as per international media reports.
Pak Myong Su, director of the anti-epidemic department of the North’s Central Emergency Anti-Epidemic Headquarters insisted that North Korea sealed its borders late January, shortly after the coronavirus outbreak news emerged from neighbouring China. He said that strict containment measures were enforced, and efforts have been successful.
Further adding to the statement, Pak Myong Su said that the government enacted pre-emptive and scientific measures. It tested every single personnel entering the country, quarantined the presumptive cases ahead of time, and thoroughly disinfected cities, Pak reportedly said. All borders were sealed, the sea and air lanes blocked, he was quoted as saying. Experts and defectors, however, claimed that the “particularly vulnerable” Pyongyang was concealing information about the case status due to its weak healthcare systems and scant medical resources, according to AFP report.
General Robert Abrams, top US military commander in South Korea, told at a press conference last month, that he was “fairly certain” that North Korea had detected several confirmed cases of COVID-19. Earlier, President of the United States Donald Trump said in his address to the US media that he was certain North Korea was hit by the pandemic. In a letter that he sent to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in midst of infection spread as of March 22, the US offered assistance and cooperation in the anti-epidemic work, a state-run Korean Central News Agency confirmed.
In the letter, Trump proposed an action plan to mend relations between the two countries of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the US, and expressed intent to render co-operation, according to a statement from Kim Yo Jong, Kim's younger sister and first vice department director for WPK Central Committee. She said that the North Korean administration esteemed US president’s efforts to improve bilateral relations at a time when “big challenges and difficulties” lay ahead, referring to the coronavirus pandemic, confirmed North Korean state media reports.
(With agency inputs)