Over 100 North Korean troops have died due to suspected COVID-19 symptoms since February around the borders with China, reported the Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday.
“It is suspected that deaths are associated with COVID-19 even though it is hard to specify the exact reasons,” said a source familiar with the negotiations among South Korea, the United States and Japan. “North Korea has failed to keep the virus from occurring around the borders and penetrating across the country although it closed its borders with China on Jan. 29.”
North Korea’s state-run media released a photography of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un not wearing a face mask during his inspection at an artillery corps on March 12. “The picture is intended to quell public concern over the spread of COVID-19. The truth is that the situation in North Korea is getting serious,” argued the Yomiuri Shimbun. “With the U.S.-North Korea denuclearization negotiations at a standstill, there is much attention paid to a possibility of quarantine-related talks between the two nations.”
North Korea has not officially reported any confirmed case of infections or deaths. However, North Korea's Korean Central News reported on Friday that 2,280 people are left under coronavirus quarantine including overseas business travelers, persons in contact with suspected or positive cases, and those with cold symptoms.”
According to Radio Free Asia on Friday, COVID-19 supplies were shipped to North Korea on Saturday such as N95 face masks, personal protective equipment and infrared thermometers, which the UNICEF was requested last month by the North Korean government to provide. The UNICEF announced that the supplies will be transported to Pyongyang’s health authorities. It is the first ever overseas aid by an international organization since the closure of borders due to the COVID-19 outbreak.