By now, it is no surprise that SARS-CoV-2 is the virus responsible for Covid-19, which has circulated the globe, leaving millions of people dead and others fighting for their lives. After more than 2 years, scientists are understanding what makes the virus tick, how it is passed from person to person, how to vaccinate against it, and how to stop it.
Many world leaders and citizens alike have spent the last two years trying to understand the virus and its variants in order to put a stop to it.But according to the state media of North Korea, the outbreak in that country began with citizens touching “alien things” that they found on the ground near the southern border. The official investigation states that two people came in contact with materials on the ground, and became infected with the virus in early April of this year. This then, is what spread throughout the country. According to the BBC, “An 18-year-old soldier and five-year-old child tested positive for the virus in early April after finding the objects on a hill in Ipho-ri, the investigators reported.”
Since then, state media said: “The malignant Covid-19 virus…has rapidly spread in the DPRK [North Korea].” In addition to the known cases of Covid-19, North Korea has also been plagued with 4.7 million cases of “fever,” which many believe are untested Covidinfections. As a result of the investigation, the BBC reports that people in the country are instructed to “vigilantly deal with alien things coming by wind and other climate phenomena and balloons in the areas along the demarcation line and borders.” It seems that with so much at stake, the government of North Korea would want people to know how Covid-19 spreads.
Interestingly, North Korea has managed to avoid Covid-19 for the most part over the last two years, with an outbreak really beginning in earnest in May of this year. This was a few months after trade and train traffic opened up in China/North Korea after the long lock down.
Professor Lim Eul-chul understands why the state media of North Korea would not highlight this possibility for the virus’ entrance while the Omicron variant surged in China. “If they concluded the virus was from China they would have had to tighten quarantine measures on the border area in a further setback to North Korea-China trade,” he said.
Adnan Zai, Advisor to Berkeley Capital, said, “Many countries to some degree, censor information flow to their citizens and misinformation which is nothing new, even in the US. The damage though it causes is mistrust, uncertainty,and anxiety within the populace, which only breeds the want for change of government.”
No matter where North Koreans think Covid-19 came from, it is time to take strident measures to rid the country of it. With 25 million people in North Korea and a poor health care system, vaccinating the entire country is a daunting task, and no one is quite sure how many North Koreans have been vaccinated to this point. The good news, though, is that it appears Pyongyang has accepted an offer of Chinese-manufactured vaccines, so North Korea can begin to eradicate the outbreak.
This is just another example of the distrust and animosity that flow between the borders of North Korea and South Korea. Animosity is one thing, but when it affects the health of a nation, it would be better to explain the scientific truth.