North Korea is taking ‘unprecedented’ measures against the corona virus with months of quarantines, foreign diplomats locked in their compositions and speakers that ward off health warnings.
State media demand ‘absolute obedience’ to health authorities while the secret nation tries to protect itself against the virus that originated in neighboring China.
Newcomers are subject to 30 days of isolation and authorities carry out door-to-door health checks in a more intensive ‘anti-virus campaign’.
North Korea claims it is the only neighbor of China that has not had a single case.
North Korea claims it is the only neighbor of China that has not had a single case of coronavirus (photo, North Koreans wore masks last week)
Foreigners are confronted with strict restrictions: all residents in the country have been placed in quarantine since the beginning of February.
Diplomats in Pyongyang cannot even walk through the city in what the Russian ambassador described as a “morally shattering” situation.
The embassy was ‘left without a diplomatic post … we were unable to get medication and supplies for our first aid post’, Alexander Matsegora told the Russian news agency TASS.
Personnel could only leave the site – which has a prime location in Pyongyang, close to the leadership of the workers’ party – to bring waste to a landfill when “Korean specialists immediately disinfect our truck at the gates of the embassy.”
The city’s orthodox church, the taekwondo gym, the ice rink and the swimming pool were all forbidden terrain, as were Korean and painting classes. “They may seem trivial, but everyday life is made of it.”
Diplomatic work was practically suspended, he added, without meetings, conversations or negotiations with North Korean officials or other embassies, while contact with the authorities was limited to phone calls or official notes placed in a special mailbox.
Only a country that is as ‘unique’ as the North could make such a decision to tackle ‘a problem of national concern’ and implement it, he said, describing the situation as ‘extraordinary’.
“From a material point of view, self-insulation is of course very expensive for the Korean state,” he added.
But it would always be willing to pay that price, he continued: “It is very important to understand that the issues of state security, the ideology and dignity of the country – in its North Korean understanding of course – always predominate for economic reasons. “
Those who expect sanctions to force the North to make concessions to its nuclear arsenal – negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington are currently stalled – must recognize that reality, he added.
Workers in protective suits spray disinfectant in North Korea, where authorities have taken “unprecedented” measures to protect the country against coronavirus
The new corona virus, now known as COVID-19, originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and has since spread around the world and killed more than 2,700 people.
South Korea has seen a rapid increase in cases in recent days, to over 1,100, making it the largest national census outside of China.
But Pyongyang insists that it remains the only neighbor of China who has not had a single case.
Observers doubt that, but the official voice of the Workers’ Party urged citizens to show “absolute obedience” to instructions from health authorities and the state.
“We must not forget that every moment of complacency can have irreversible catastrophic consequences and must maintain a high level of alertness,” it said.
Loudspeaker vans also drive through the country and instruct North Korean citizens on hygiene practices.
Diplomats say that North Korea’s quarantine measures are “unprecedented.”
Earlier this week, North Koreans were warned of “devastating consequences” if the country suffers even one case of coronavirus and recommends people not to gather in public places – even restaurants.
“Sitting and dining together and talking to each other can become the main spread of the infectious disease,” the party’s mouthpiece said.
But state tasks do not seem to be subject to such restrictions: on Wednesday, it carried pictures of dozens of officials from the Supreme People’s Assembly in line to visit the alleged birthplace of Kim Jong Il, the father and predecessor of current leader Kim Jong Un. . Mount Paektu. They all wore masks.