North Korea has reportedly quarantined 1,300 people as Kim Jong-un’s regime is feared to be covering up the extent of the coronavirus outbreak.
Kim’s forces have reportedly placed more than one thousands people in a makeshift quarantine centre in Pyongyang.
It is reported that the more than one thousand people are now on lock down in a hotel in Pyongyang.
North Korean authorities have reportedly rounded up anyone feared to have the virus in the capital and placed them at the hotel for observation.
Pyongyang authorities reportedly is taking extreme measures within the city as they fear a larger outbreak.
And despite North Korea sharing a border with China, the authorities in the country have yet to admit to have any cases.
While across the border in vastly more developed South Korea, more than 284 cases have been confirmed – all fuelling fears Kim is covering up the outbreak in North Korea.
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The hotel – named the 4.25 Hotel – selected to act as the makeshift quarantine zone has a capacity of 20,000, reports RFA.
“Those who cough or have a fever are classified as suspected coronavirus patients,” a source said.
“The suspected patients will be closely monitored by the emergency quarantine committee of Pyongyang over the next 20 days.
“Currently the number of suspected patients is around 1,300. Another 500 have already been discharged because their symptoms have eased.”
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Officials reportedly said those held in the hotel are either placed in solitary or shared rooms depending on their symptoms.
Doctors from the regime’s Ministry of Public Health are reportedly on site treating anyone who has symptoms.
Pyongyang is reported to be the top priority for the regime in keeping it free of the virus.
“Extreme quarantine” is reportedly being rolled out across the city – which has a population of almost 3 million people.
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A source said: “The authorities declared the new coronavirus quarantine as a matter of national survival, so they are focusing their efforts on protecting Pyongyang, where the supreme leadership of the government is located.”
“The central government has been generously supplying quarantine suits, medical equipment and medicine to the 4.25 Hotel.”
Kim’s regime reportedly cremated 12 people in North Hamgyong – claiming they died of pneumonia.
It is believed by experts to be unlikely that coronavirus will not impact North Korea, and there are ongoing fears about how the pauper state can cope.
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Another source said: “Pyongyang residents with the symptoms of pneumonia are put in isolation along with anyone they or their families have had contact with.
“Workers at the emergency quarantine committee are asking for two reports each day about the numbers of residents suffering from infectious diseases in each district.
“They also set up a hotline for Pyongyang residents to voluntarily report their symptoms to each district hospital.
Free masks are reportedly being distributed to citizens within Pyongyang.
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Kim was last week seen for the first time in 22 days amid the outbreak – which has infected more than 80,000 people worldwide.
And it came after North Korea reportedly shot dead a public official who visited a public baths while being suspected of having coronavirus.
North Korea have also reportedly been disposing of bodies quietly to avoid panic amid the potential epidemic.
Pyongyang reacted early during the outbreak – shutting down its borders to tourists from China as early reports emerged from Wuhan.
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State-media articles within North Korea have also said the virus is a “fight” and is a matter for “survival” of the state.
North Korea scholar Professor Robert E. Kelly said an epidemic in North Korea would be a “matter of national survival”.
He compared it to the famine which ravaged the hermit kingdom in the nineties – which ended up killing up to 3.5 million people.
Writing for National Interest, Professor Kelly explained that Kim knows his hermit kingdom does not have the resources to fight back against coronavirus.
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Professor Kelly, from Pusan National University, wrote: “North Korea lacks the doctors, hospitals, reserves of medicine, modern medical devices, and so on to respond adequately and prevent a spiraling spread.
“An epidemic would be, as the regime itself realized, a matter of national survival.
He added: “ Pyongyang has neither the resources nor the administrative culture – transparency, empiricism divorced from ideology, technocracy – to respond to a genuine epidemic.
“Sustained foreign assistance and, failing that, brutal repression would almost certainly be necessary to prevent a local plague.”
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The professor also North Korea’s healthcare system has been “broken for decades” and would be unable to cope.
Professor Kelly however did say a small outbreak would be able to be contained by Pyongyang.
He explained an hint the coronavirus in North Korea would snap Kim’s regime into action.
The expert predicted a campaign of repression would be launched to crackdown on any potential victims.
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However, Jean Lee, the director off the Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History, told CNN: “North Korea has such a limited supply of basic medicine that public health officials need to focus on preventative medicine.
“They would be ill-equipped to deal with any kind of epidemic.”
Choi Jung-hun, a former doctor n North Korea who escaped the regime in 2011, also said Pyongyang does not have the resources to operate full-scale quarantine.
He worked on a measles outbreak within the country in 2006 to 2007 and said medics wee ill-equipped to fight back.
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“The problem in North Korea is that manuals are not followed,” the physician explained.
“When there wasn't enough food provided for the people at hospitals and quarantine facilities, people escaped to look for food.”
And meanwhile North Korea faces the threat of the epidemic, the country could also see its already crippling economy crisis worsen.
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