North Korean officials were pictured with a meeting wearing face masks amid claims that they hide cases of coronavirus.
The news comes after a report from South Korea accused the regime of executing an official for flouting quarantine to visit a public bath.
North Korea has not yet confirmed cases of the virus, but has closed the land border with China, where 254 people died yesterday from the outbreak.
Experts fear that the Kim Jong-Un regime conceals its infection rate so as not to appear weak in the eyes of the international community.
“There is no way that North Korea is not affected by the corona virus – they are clearly lying because they do not want to show weakness or that there is no threat to the regime,” Harry Kazianis, director of Korean Studies at the Center for National Interest told Fox news.
North Korean Prime Minister Kim Jae Ryon, top right, has a meeting yesterday at the emergency anti-epidemic headquarters in Pyongyang, North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (photo) has imposed drastic quarantine measures – allegedly leading to the execution of a trade official for a public bath visit
“Given that there are many porous parts of the border between North Korea and China – and how the Kim regime depends on illegal trade to survive – it is clear that the virus has come to North Korea.”
Some South Korean media have reported multiple cases of the new corona virus, formally known as COVID-19, and even possible deaths in the north.
Across China, 254 people died of coronavirus – including 242 in Hubei – on the deadliest day of the outbreak so far.
From ex-girlfriends to ‘missing’ family members, earlier high-profile North Korean executions
Singer Hyon Song Wol, 2013
South Korean media claimed in 2013 that singer Hyon Song Wol had been executed by the firing squad in a scandalous sex tape scandal.
One newspaper even described her as the ‘former girlfriend’ of Kim Jong-un.
However, she was very much alive and later emerged as an important member of Kim’s government, who accompanied him in his meetings with Donald Trump.
Kim’s uncle Jang Song Thaek, 2013
Kim’s uncle was executed in 2013 after a special military tribunal found him guilty of treason.
South Korea’s espionage agency had initially revealed the cleansing and said that Jang had been removed from office and an assistant sentenced to death.
In a rare public admission, North Korea then confirmed the cleansing and announced that Jang himself had been executed.
Official media claimed that Jang was planning to seize power since the death of Kim’s father Kim Jong-il in 2011.
Military leader Ri Yong Gil, 2016
Seoul intelligence officials claimed in 2016 that military chief Ri Yong Gil had been sentenced to death for corruption and other charges.
The report seemed to be reinforced when official updates described someone else as chief of the general staff, indicating that Ri had lost his job.
However, state media later said that Ri was still alive and in possession of several new senior posts.
Ri later returned to his post as chief of the military staff in 2018.
Deputy Prime Minister Kim Yong Jin, 2016
Claims about the death of Kim Yong Jin came directly from officials of the Unification Ministry in Seoul in 2016.
Seoul said Kim was executed by a firing squad for unspecified anti-revolutionary and faction actions.
He had also reportedly fueled anger for not holding his posture during a public event.
North Korea has not confirmed or refused the report, but Kim has never appeared again in public.
Nuclear negotiator Kim Yong Chol, 2019
A South Korean newspaper reported last May that the North Nuclear Negotiator Kim Yong Chol had been relegated to heavy labor following a failed summit with Trump.
The report claimed that senior envoy Kim Hyok Chol was conducted in the same purge.
The claim about the exile of Kim Yong Chol turned out to be false within a few days when official media published photos of him at a concert just a few seats away from Kim Jong-un.
Experts say the photos also raise serious doubts about the claim of the execution of Kim Hyok Chol because he was the more junior official.
COVID-19 has so far killed at least 1,370 people and infected more than 60,380 people worldwide.
If they are affected by the outbreak, experts fear that the country cannot handle the scale of the contamination rate.
Nagi Shafik, a former WHO project manager in Pyongyang, told the South China Morning Post that many women and children suffer that do not have enough to eat, so that they are malnourished, meaning the virus can easily pick them up.
He added that the country has no basic medicines, such as antibiotics, and that they are especially hard to come by in rural areas.
Fear of a cover-up operation comes when a commercial officer was arrested and immediately shot after risking the spread of coronavirus by visiting the public bath, the South Korean Dong-a Ilbo newspaper reported.
The official was isolated after he had traveled to China, with Kim Jong-un imposing military legislation to enforce the lockdown, sources said.
North Korea has not yet confirmed cases of the virus, but has taken drastic measures to prevent it from spreading across its border with China.
The trade official was reportedly quarantined under a policy to isolate anyone who had been to China or had been in contact with Chinese people.
It is claimed that he is in violation of a decree of Kim Jong-un, which promised to “rule under military law” against anyone who left quarantine without approval.
Another official is reportedly exiled to a North Korean farm after he wanted to hide his travels to China.
The second officer was reportedly a member of the National Security Agency of the mysterious kingdom.
Claims that blundering officials are being cleared or executed are common in North Korea and are very difficult to verify.
Last year the widespread rumors that a senior official had been banned for a failed summit with Donald Trump proved incorrect when he appeared in public with Kim.
Pyongyang announced yesterday that quarantines had been extended to 30 days, longer than the 14-day period recommended by world health employers.
Government agencies and foreigners living in North Korea were expected to obey it “unconditionally,” according to the North Korean media.
North Korea has almost completely closed the border with China, the only major diplomatic ally.
Flights are reduced with road and train connections that are closed or strongly restricted, while foreign tourists are banned.
The DMZ between North and South Korea has already been greatly strengthened and at least few people are crossing it.
Pyongyang has also suspended operations in a liaison office that led it with South Korea, just north of the border.
State media reported that the Red Cross Association of North Korea was deployed in “relevant areas” throughout the country to track people with possible symptoms.
“They perform information activities in various forms and in different ways in public places to introduce general medical knowledge about the epidemic and to encourage people to benefit more from the noble moral qualities of helping and helping each other,” KCNA reported.
A health worker in protective clothing wears a disinfectant spray can to inspect arrivals at Pyongyang Airport in North Korea
It was believed that tens of thousands of North Korean workers were working in China before a UN order for Beijing to send them home ended in December.
It was unknown how many of them returned home.
Officials of the World Health Organization in Pyongyang have said that they are not aware of confirmed cases.
North Korea took similar severe quarantine measures during the spread of SARS in 2002-03, which also began in China.
According to the South Korean government, the North did not report SARS cases at the time.