SWITZERLAND: The World Health Organisation warned today that COVID-19 may spread rapidly in North Korea, where it said vaccination programmes had yet to begin.
“With the country yet to initiate COVID-19 vaccination, there is risk that the virus may spread rapidly among the masses unless curtailed with immediate and appropriate measures,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO’s regional director for South-East Asia, in a statement sent to journalists.
In the same statement, the WHO said it had yet to receive information about the reported outbreak directly from local authorities.
Meanwhile, Standing tall in bright red hazmat suits, five North Korean health workers stride towards an ambulance to do battle with a COVID-19 outbreak that – in the presumed absence of vaccines – the country is using antibiotics and home remedies to treat.
In an interview on state television on Monday, Vice Minister of Public Health Kim Hyong Hun said the country had switched from a quarantine to a treatment system to handle the hundreds of thousands of suspected “fever” cases reported each day.
The World Health Organisation has shipped some health kits and other supplies to North Korea, but has not said what drugs they contain. Neighbours China and South Korea have offered to send aid if Pyongyang requests it.
While not claiming that antibiotics and home remedies will eliminate Covid, North Korea has a long history of developing scientifically unproven treatments, including an injection made from ginseng grown in rare earth elements it claimed could cure everything from AIDS to impotence.
Some have roots in traditional medicines, while others have been developed to offset a lack of modern drugs or as “made in North Korea” exports.
Despite a high number of trained doctors and experience mobilizing for health emergencies, North Korea’s medical system is woefully under-resourced, experts say. – THE MALAY MAIL