Home Business News North Korea’s ‘thriving black market’ could have already spread coronavirus

North Korea’s ‘thriving black market’ could have already spread coronavirus

by LLB Reporter
22nd Feb 20 3:49 pm

To date North Korea has not reported any cases of coronavirus however, health experts fear there could be many undetected infections as the country borders with China.

This week a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official told reporters in Geneva that “there are no signals … no indications” of coronavirus in the impoverished North Korea.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un’s government have stopped all flights and trains from China and have imposed a month-long quarantine to anyone that comes into Pyongyang the capital.

Trade between China and North Korea amount to 90% and the 1,500km border with China has been closed.

However, there is a “thriving black-market” trade network between the two countries so it is quite likely the deadly virus could have already entered North Korea.

Nicholas David Thomas, an associate professor at City University of Hong Kong and a specialist in health security in Asia said, “There is a thriving black-market network up on the North Korean – Chinese border.

“And so, all you need is one infected person to be smuggled in or smuggled out and either state wouldn’t immediately know.”

A former North Korean diplomat questions the country’s official figures, a media outlet has reported several people have died in recent days who had symptoms of coronavirus, but these reports have not been confirmed.

The dictator, Jong Un has a vice like grip on the country and international agencies will be unlikely to gather any verifiable data due to heavy restrictions on movement.

If the country were to get coronavirus it could rapidly spread as hospitals are ill-equipped and most of the population already suffer from poor health.

Dr John Linton, the director of the International Health Care Center at Yonsei University in South Korea said, “If [coronavirus] got into North Korea, where there are a lot of other underlying deficiencies and lacking healthcare, the death rate would go up quite a bit.

“With their general population suffering from malnutrition, it would be much, much worse than China,” particularly in rural areas.

Linton fears that due to North Korea not being able to test for the virus particularly in rural areas as they lack “basic equipment, basic gowns and gloves,” therefore, the virus could easily spread across the country.

He added that North Korea need “hazmat suits, they want gowns, they want gloves” and “those things are always lacking” in the country.

South Korea which borders North Korea, reported on Saturday here has been an eight-fold jump in coronavirus cases in four days. On Friday there were 100 confirmed cases of coronavirus with two deaths.

Cases doubled overnight, as there were 229 new cases bringing the “known” total to 433. The outbreak in South Korea has entered a “serious new phase” said, vice health minister Kim Gang-lip.

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