Days after North Korean supreme leader, Kim Jong Un, warned the health officials in the country of dire consequences, there are fears that the North Korean dictator may soon start executing the health workers as there have been reports of several coronavirus related deaths in the hermit kingdom.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un during a ruling party meeting ordered the country's anti-epidemic headquarters to strengthen screening and tests to seal off all "channels and space through which the infectious disease may find its way," Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA had reported on February 29.
Kim ordered all fields and units of North Korea to "unconditionally" obey quarantine instructions issued by the anti-epidemic headquarters.
"In case the infectious disease spreading beyond control finds its way into our country, it will entail serious consequences," KCNA quoted Kim as saying during the politburo meeting of the Workers' Party.
There already have been reports that the first confirmed coronavirus patient has been executed, now there are fears that the officials from the country's anti-epidemic headquarters besides the army officials controlling its border may face execution if coronavirus spreads in the country.
Coronavirus deaths in North Korea
It has now emerged that at least 23 people in North Korea have died after getting infected by the coronavirus COVID 19 strain.
A report published in Daily NK revealed that since January a total of 23 people have in North Korea, even as the government officials under Kim Jong Un's rule continue to insist that there are no people infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
What is even more worrying is the fact that some 7,000 people are in "self-quarantine" and under close monitoring in North Korean provinces of North and South Pyongan and Kangwon, Chosun reported.
COVID 19 could enter NK through porous Chinese border
Despite all its claims, there is no way North Korea can stop the spread of the highly contagious COVID 19 as it is sandwiched between China and South Korea - the two countries that have seen the most number of cases in the world.
China has over 80,000 coronavirus cases that have killed 3,000 people until now, while South Korea has over 6,000 cases and 38 deaths.
Even though North Korea has sealed off its borders with South Korea and China, the country's 880-mile border with China is porous and is used a smuggling route, and it from there the virus has spread.
The two provinces on the Chinese side, Liaoning and Jilin, already have seen hundreds of COVID 19 positive cases.
Sue Mi Terry, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies wrote in Foreign Affairs: "If the virus does reach North Korea, it is likely to spread rapidly. Some 43 percent of the population, or 11 million people, are already malnourished, making them highly vulnerable to infectious diseases."
What is even worse is the fact that North Korea's healthcare system, which is in shambles is totally unprepared for handling the spread of this contagious disease. "....Pyongyang is well aware of this. It has hermetically sealed its borders, suspended all tourism, quarantined all foreign nationals, shut down many public sites, and closed all schools for a month," Terry observed.