North Korea boasts that it has no cases of COVID-19, even as its neighbor to the north China has experienced more than 3,200 deaths from the global pandemic.
North Korean leader Kim Jung Un claims that a 30-day quarantine, a closed border and the suspension of trade with China has kept the nation free from coronavirus.
But some experts think the claim is just a cover-up.
‘It’s impossible for North Korea not to have a single case of coronavirus,’ Jung H. Pak, a former CIA expert on North Korea, said to Fox News. Pak said the unrealistic brag from Un is likely his way of drawing attention away from North Korea’s economy, human rights violations and other criminal acts.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un says the country has had no cases of coronavirus, a claim experts have greatly disputed
Leaders in North Korea’s largest city of Pyongyang claim the country has been able to stave off coronavirus infections by fighting for ‘national survival.’
Officials in North Korea said they found no coronavirus infections among the more than 5,400 people who were released from quarantine.
General Robert Abrams, a commander of U.S. Forces Korea, points to the low level of recent military activity in North Korea as one hint that coronavirus likely infected the country.
A woman has her temperature taken before boarding a flight at the Pyongyang International Airport in North Korea
A quarantine worker in Cheongdo county, South Korea stands at a screening center while spraying disinfectant
‘It is a closed-off nation, so we can’t say emphatically that they have cases, but we’re fairly certain they do,’ Abrams said.
He added, ‘What I do know is that their armed forces had been fundamentally in a lockdown for about 30 days and only recently have they started routine training again. As one example, they didn’t fly an airplane for 24 days.’
Some experts think North Korea’s massive malnourishment problem, which can weaken the immune systems of many of its citizens, could contribute to a massive spread of coronavirus. But the country’s repressive regime, ironically enough, could help curb the spread of the disease, whatever the true number is.
A passenger pushers her luggage through a Hong Kong airport while wearing protective gear
‘There’s no human rights or social freedom concerns, there’s probably no concern for people starving to death,’ Thomas Byrne, president of the Korea Society, who teaches international affairs at Columbia University, told Bloomberg. ‘They can really enforce social distancing.’
A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department has said the United States is worried about the susceptibility of the North Korean populace to widespread infections.
South Korea has stabilized its coronavirus spread after reaching more than 8,300 cases
Medical staff tests patient for coronavirus at a check point in Daegu, South Korea
‘The United States is deeply concerned about the vulnerability of the North Korean people to a coronavirus outbreak,’ said Morgan Ortagus, department spokesperson.
South Korea, on the other hand, has been praised by other countries for its handling of coronavirus. The spread of the disease has steadily tampered off and is currently around 8,300 confirmed cases.
It has tested over a quarter of a million of its citizens for coronavirus, representing roughly one of every 200 South Koreans. In the hopes of getting the same results, the United States and other nations are looking to adopt similar testing methods.
As of Tuesday night, there were more than 197,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide with nearly 8,000 deaths.