Some North Koreans defying coronavirus prevention rules, state media complains
Some North Koreans are actively opposing or being uncooperative with nationwide efforts to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the country’s state media complained on Monday, describing the behavior as “absolutely unacceptable.”
The article, carried in the ruling party daily the Rodong Sinmun, reported that many DPRK citizens had served to “slow down the tightening-up” of emergency quarantine measures because of their view that “the infectious disease did not flow into our country yet.”
“Until recently, a phenomenon arose that some citizens, seeing wearing masks as burdensome, held fast to their opinion against those who require them to abide by the quarantine regulations,” the Rodong said, reminding readers of recent comments by leader Kim Jong Un stressing that “no special cases must be allowed within the state anti-epidemic system.”
“Officials of certain units organized workers’ meetings without wearing masks,” the article said, adding that some “did not appropriately respond to the demands made by members of relevant institutions that are acquainted with the state of the quarantine work.”
“This comes from a point of view of misleading thought, not paying attention to the country and the people, and only thinking about their own unit.”
Monday’s article reiterated points reportedly made by Kim Jong Un at a Politburo meeting last month, at which several officials were fired for alleged corruption.
“All officials and workers… should abide by the strict rule to unconditionally obey the command and control of the Non-permanent Central People’s Public Health Guidance Committee,” the article said.
Despite Monday’s complaints, North Korea appears increasingly confident that its stringent quarantine measures have stemmed a potential outbreak of COVID-19, with state media reporting that some of the previously-quarantined population have now been released from isolation.
State media reported today that the country has now released a total of 3650 people from “medical observation” and isolation, with 1020 patients in Kangwon Province and 2630 in Jagang Province now free.
Those released from quarantine “did not show abnormal symptoms for the past few days,” the report said, explaining that former detainees have been provided with a certificate confirming their successful release from medical observation.
“Foreigners isolated for more than 30 days, and civil servants, guides, interpreters, and drivers who were isolated along with them,” had been released, it added.
North Korean authorities are reportedly primarily releasing individuals who had been isolated at home “for more than 40 days,” and are not showing any symptoms.
The news brings the known number of quarantined inside North Korea up to 9550 — state media previously reported 2420 in South Phyongan Province, 1500 in Kangwon Province, and 3000 in North Phyongan Province — of which 38% have now been released. It’s unclear how many are under medical observation in other provinces, however.
The DPRK has also loosened some of its restrictions on foreigners within the country, giving the go-ahead Monday for a group of diplomats and aid workers to depart the country on national airliner Air Koryo — the first flight out of the country in weeks.
North Korean state media on Monday also continued to emphasize the high-intensity quarantine and preventive work going on across the country, despite the release of some under quarantine.
The Rodong Sinmun warned that it remained “unpredictable” precisely how much damage COVID-19 poses to the country, stressing that “work to completely lock down all routes through which the infectious disease can flow in — the border, sea, and air — should be continued with high intensity.”
Emphasizing the importance of tightly-controlling “all vehicles staying at the border crossing area or passing through our territorial waters, airspace, and land,” another article on Monday reported that DPRK authorities have forbidden ships from throwing away water or pollutants.
These rules are now included in the “Border Inspection and Quarantine Regulation for Preventing Novel Coronavirus Infection,” it said, referring to the “trade ships isolated in our territorial waters and in the Taedong River basin” and “ports located in the East and West Sea.”
Nampho Import-Export Inspection and Quarantine Station has also reportedly created “mobile disinfection passageways,” with spray-type disinfectants installed, the party daily reported, adding that imported items were now being isolated for ten days upon entering the country.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Some North Koreans are actively opposing or being uncooperative with nationwide efforts to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the country's state media complained on Monday, describing the behavior as "absolutely unacceptable."
The article, carried in the ruling party daily the Rodong Sinmun, reported that many DPRK citizens had served to "slow down the tightening-up" of emergency quarantine measures because of their view that "the infectious disease did not flow into our country yet."