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N. Korea Confirms Outbreak of H1N1 Flu

Posted December. 10, 2009 09:12,   


North Korea officially confirmed yesterday an outbreak of H1N1 influenza, or swine flu, in the communist country.

The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said, “Amid increasing human casualties due to H1N1 influenza, certain areas of our country are also affected by the virus,” adding, “The Health Ministry has confirmed nine cases of the flu in Shinuiju and Pyongyang.”

Speculation is also rising that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has been infected with the H1N1 virus since he has not appeared in public for nine days.

The daily Chosun Shinbo, the mouthpiece of the pro-North Korea league of residents in Japan, said, “Pyongyang held training sessions Saturday for staff at all medical institutions to deal with the flu outbreak,” adding, “Medical staff were urged to report flu infections to the government and isolate infected patients at homes or hospitals.”

This report came after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak ordered government officials Tuesday to help the North respond to the outbreak, leading to speculation that the two Koreas might held a contact on the matter.

Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said in Seoul, “From a humanitarian perspective, the government will come up with concrete measures as soon as possible without no strings attached,” adding, “We’ll take steps to discuss the matter with the North.”

Seoul has reportedly expressed its willingness through the (South) Korean National Red Cross at Panmunjom to send medical supplies to the North, such as anti-viral drugs.

On the schedule for anti-H1N1 flu aid to the North, Chun said, “We need close consultations with relevant government bodies including the Health, Welfare and Family Affairs Ministry,” adding, “After a government review, we will start discussions with the North.”