◆ The current situation in Chongjin City
The following is a summary of the reporting partner’s investigation in Chongjin City:
• Currently, Chongjin City’s hospital and People’s Committee (local government) have not confirmed an outbreak of the coronavirus in the city. Though the medical institutions are not testing for the coronavirus.
• The number of patients with coughs, colds, and fevers are increasing. Of those patients, many begin to suspect that they have caught the coronavirus if they do not recover after taking medicine. The authorities are quarantining people with high fevers, issuing them certificates for them to take medical leave.
• Merchants at the markets are required to wear masks. Residents are restricted from moving to other areas, but there are no other special regulations or measures. Rumors are circulating that markets are likely to be banned from selling food.
• The number of staff for each of the quarantine stations in downtown Chongjin was increased by 50%. The quarantine officers are not wearing protective clothing to prevent infection. Instead, they wear uniforms of white cloth and only have a mask for protection. Due to a lack of disinfectants, communal toilets and other places are sprayed with saltwater, employing equipment used normally for spraying pesticide.
• Events have been suspended and orders have been given blocking groups of people from gathering. However, attendance at self-criticism meetings and ideological study sessions (held once a week at workplaces and other institutions) is strictly mandatory, though people are required to wear masks. At local government offices, party-affiliated organizations, and businesses, there are medical check-ups every other day, though officials only take people’s temperatures.
Had it needed to, North Korea would probably not have been able to develop its own coronavirus infection test kits. Fortunately for the country, Russia came to its aid in late February, announcing a shipment of 1,500 test kits. Though no announcement was made, it is likely that China also provided support. Meanwhile, quarantine supplies and other such aid from UNICEF and international NGOs was delayed and only reached the country in late March. Now that such deliveries have been made, it remains to be seen whether the country will finally launch full-scale testing. (Kang Ji-won/ISHIMARU Jiro)
※ ASIAPRESS contacts reporting partners in North Korea through smuggled Chinese mobile phones.
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