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Reflections during COVID-19 crisis

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By Tong Kim

On April 3, North Korea's "state emergency anti-epidemic headquarters" claimed that there were no confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and only around 500 people remained in quarantine across the country. Not too long ago, Pyongyang had reported thousands were being "medically monitored" against the viral pandemic in several provinces.

North Korean propaganda credits the regime's effective anti-virus measures for lifting the quarantine on those who showed no symptoms of infection. The North closed its borders early on, putting arrivals in the country and those who may have contacted them into a strict 40-day quarantine, and sanitizing all imported goods.

However, Pyongyang's claim has raised skepticism among many experts who know that North Korea's health care service is poor. Interestingly, Gen. Robert Abrams, the commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, also questioned it last week. "That is an impossible claim based on all of the intel we have seen....That is untrue." Abrams said.

Washington has offered to help North Korea fight against the coronavirus, but Pyongyang has not been responsive. For example, President Trump recently sent a letter to Chairman Kim Jong-un, and "expressed his intent to render cooperation in the anti-epidemic........

© The Korea Times