According to Daily NK, the COVID-19 virus killed 180 North Korean soldiers in January and February and has sent another 3,700 into quarantine. And according to South Korea’s government-backed Yonhap News Agency, North Korea quarantined almost 10,000 people over coronavirus fears but released nearly 4,000 because they didn’t present symptoms.
However the North Korean government line hasn’t changed. “The infectious disease did not flow into our country yet,” North Korea’s government-controlled Rodong Sinmun newspaper said on Monday, according to Newsweek.
The Daily NK attributed its information to a medical-corps report from within the North Korean military. Hospitals serving different parts of the army were asked to provide data about the number of soldiers in their care who died of high fevers triggered by pneumonia, tuberculosis, asthma, and colds, as well as those who were in quarantine.
The report itself caused a furor in the military’s leadership, according to a Daily NK source, who said that officials have ordered military hospitals to thoroughly sanitize the areas where quarantined soldiers are being housed. Soldiers with compromised immune systems or those who have a history of poor health are also being closely monitored, the source said. Military-unit leaders can also expect to be punished if the proper protocol directed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus is not followed, the Daily NK said.
Officials are looking into increasing the soldiers’ supply of food so their bodies are better equipped to resist COVID-19, the Daily NK‘s source said, adding that people “in charge of the military’s logistics operations are stressing that soldiers are supplied at least 800 grams worth of food per day. They also are emphasizing that soldiers eat three meals of pureed soybean soup per day, instead of the usual one per day.”
A warning was also issued in Rodong Sinmun that deemed it “absolutely unacceptable” for North Korean citizens to interfere with the government’s steps to halt the coronavirus. That includes those who object to wearing face masks, according to Newsweek.