North Korea has reported an outbreak of an unknown intestinal disease

North Korea on Thursday reported an outbreak of an unidentified intestinal disease in an agricultural region, putting additional pressure on the isolated state, which is facing a chronic food shortage and a wave of COVID-19 infections, Reuters reports.

Leader Kim Jong Un sent medicines to the western port city of Haeju on Wednesday to help patients suffering from this “acute enteric epidemic” (the term “enteric” refers to the intestinal tract), the news agency said. KCNA without specifying the number of people affected or identifying the disease.

“(Kim) stressed the need to control the epidemic as soon as possible by taking appropriate measures to quarantine suspicious cases so as to completely limit its transmission and to confirm the cases by epidemiological examination and scientific tests,” said KCNA, according to Agerpres .

An official from the South Korean Ministry of Reunification dealing with inter-Korean affairs said the government is monitoring the outbreak, which could be cholera or typhoid fever.

The outbreak came when North Korea was already facing a first wave of COVID-19 infections. The state declared a state of emergency last month amid fears of a lack of vaccines and medical supplies.

The South Korean intelligence agency said water-borne diseases, such as typhoid fever, were already widespread in North Korea before the coronavirus epidemic was announced.

“Intestinal diseases such as typhoid fever and shigellosis are not very new in North Korea, but what is really problematic is their emergence at a time when the country is already struggling with COVID-19,” said Professor Shin Young. jeon, from Hanyang University School of Medicine in Seoul.

The outbreak of the disease, located in the most important agricultural region in North Korea

South Korea is willing to work with North Korea to stem the epidemic, but Pyongyang authorities have not responded to any of the dialogue offers, including a previous proposal by Seoul to provide COVID-19 vaccines. another official from the Ministry of Reunification.

South Hwanghae Province, where Haeju is located, is North Korea’s most important agricultural region, raising concerns about a possible impact on the country’s food shortage.

Although the likelihood of spreading the infection through crops seems slim, authorities will disinfect the water sources as the disease is likely to be transmitted by water, said Eom Joong-sik, an infectious disease expert at Gil Medical Center at Gachon University.

Pyongyang reported daily the number of patients with fever without specifying that they had COVID-19, most likely due to a lack of test kits. Experts also suspect that the number of patients in the state-controlled press is underreported.

North Korea reported another 26,010 people with symptoms of fever on Thursday, bringing the total number of “fever” patients in the country since the end of April to nearly 4.56 million. The death toll from the outbreak is 73.

Editor: ML

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