Pyongyang declares “special quarantine period” for diplomatic zones

Photo of the entrance of the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang taken in November 2011 (Lazyhawk, Wikimedia Commons)

The “special anti-epidemic period” implemented by Pyongyang in late January was limited to the area surrounding the city’s diplomatic district and did not include a city-wide lockdown, Daily NK learned.

According to the Associated Press on January 30, the Russian embassy in Pyongyang Posted In a Facebook message, North Korea’s foreign ministry informed foreign diplomats that the “enhanced quarantine period” imposed in Pyongyang since last Wednesday was lifted on Monday.

According to the Russian embassy, ​​the North Korean foreign ministry said in its initial notice that with the increase in people suffering from infectious respiratory diseases such as influenza, authorities are imposing special epidemic prevention measures accordingly. The notice instructed foreign embassies to limit movement as much as possible during a “special quarantine period” and conducted staff temperature checks four times a day, with the results announced daily at 3:00 p.m. reported to the hospital.

However, the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s notice made no mention of “COVID-19,” nor did it comment on restrictions imposed on ordinary citizens in the city during the “special quarantine period.”

A fumigation vehicle deployed near the diplomatic zone

Multiple sources in Pyongyang confirmed to Daily NK that the neighborhood guard, or Imminbanalong with various agencies and organizations throughout Pyongyang, did not receive instructions or orders related to the implementation of a “special quarantine period.”

Sources say even before January 25, North Korea’s quarantine regulations required people with fevers to report to a clinic or hospital before self-isolating at home. , while the “special quarantine period” was imposed, ordinary North Koreans in Pyongyang were not restricted from leaving their homes, and local markets and shops were not closed for disease control. reported.

That said, North Korean authorities have deployed fumigation vehicles in areas near Pyongyang’s diplomatic district during “special quarantine periods” such as the Taedonggang, Moranbong and Central districts. I have witnessed these vehicles sanitize the building exterior and external facilities several times.

A source in Pyongyang’s Daily NK said rumors had circulated in the city that vehicles had been deployed to disinfect the area where the rally was held in January. These rallies were held to unite local citizens behind the decisions made at the 6th plenary session of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

Another reason North Korea is unlikely to have imposed a city-wide lockdown in Pyongyang is revision In November last year, the law on emergency quarantine work was enacted. According to the revisions, if a country is under its “normal epidemic prevention system,” authorities will refrain from shutting down entire cities and instead lock down specific areas such as neighborhoods, apartments or workplaces where COVID-19 is suspected. focus on isolating the

A source in Pyongyang’s Daily NK said the authorities would not take special measures to lock down the entire city unless they raised the level of the country’s epidemic prevention system.

No sign of blockade outside Pyongyang

Meanwhile, there are no indications that North Korean authorities have taken special quarantine measures outside of Pyongyang, with people suffering from high fevers, coughing or breathing problems.

Suspected COVID-19 cases have recently increased in areas along the border with China, such as Sinuiju, Yongcheon and Cheolsan counties, according to sources from Pyonganbuk-do Daily NK.

These suspected cases include people complaining of fevers over 38 degrees Celsius, coughs, sore throats and headaches. All of these symptoms can be caused by COVID-19. However, hospitals and clinics in the area simply diagnosed these cases as “flu” and under no circumstances did he mention COVID-19.

recently, dramatic rise Suspected cases of COVID-19 reported in Hyesan, Yanggang Province, but North Korean authorities have not announced implementation of a “special quarantine period,” and measures such as banning people from leaving their homes did not teach.

“Recently, the number of people suffering from COVID-19 symptoms has increased to the point where it is said that there is at least one person in every household. [who has been infected by the virus]said a Yangjiang Daily NK source. “Clinics and hospitals are diagnosing these cases as influenza and telling people to self-isolate at home to prevent the spread of the contagious disease.”

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Laurer.

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