Go to contents

‘N. Korea Importing Tamiflu for Top Officials Only’

Posted December. 09, 2009 09:02,   


North Korea is known to have secured Tamiflu in the wake of its first case of H1N1 influenza reported in May, but only for high-ranking government officials.

The South Korean civic group for North Korean human rights Good Friends said yesterday that the North has secured large doses of vaccines against the flu and anti-viral drugs for leader Kim Jong Il and top officials through its foreign missions in Europe.

The North’s first case of the H1N1 flu was confirmed in early May, sources close to the communist country said. A North Korean official returning from Latin America was confirmed to have contracted the virus, but the North hid this and quarantined him.

Pyongyang has since enhanced quarantine measures at all entry points but failed to curb the spread of the flu.

Schools in North Korea also began winter vacation a month ahead of schedule, but reported deaths from the flu.

Voice of America said the World Health Organization is trying to find out if the H1N1 virus has affected North Korea.

Pyongyang is encouraging its people to take precautions against the flu but most North Koreans are unaware of the symptoms, sources said. Though patients with suspicious symptoms have appeared, clinics with outdated medical technology are unable to determine whether it is type A flu.

A North Korean defector who was a doctor in the North said, “A flu virus raged in August but nobody knew if it was H1N1,” adding, “Though quarantine orders were issued, medical facilities had no means of taking action. There was also no knowing whether a patient died of the H1N1 flu.”