North Korean authorities test entire university after spike in fever cases and deaths

On June 27, North Korean authorities announced that they were considering measures to ward off the threat of “new virus variants”. (Rodong Sinmun – News1)

North Korean authorities recently carried out emergency health checks of all instructors and students at Kim Jong Thae Haeju University of Education in Haeju, South Hwanghae Province, after a spike in fever cases and death at school.

A source from Daily NK in South Hwanghae Province said on Thursday that a “new type of fever” started spreading in the dormitory of Kim Jong Thae Haeju University of Education from June 10. Authorities in Haeju City deemed the situation serious and reported it to the State Emergency Anti-Epidemic Command through the provincial emergency quarantine authorities on June 20.

“In accordance with an emergency order from the State Emergency Epidemic Command, all educators and students were tested for three days starting June 23,” the source said.

North Korea claims to stabilize its COVID-19 situation, showing a drop in the number of fever cases. Yet inside North Korea, crisis situations like this are emerging. People say that what happened at Kim Jong Thae Haeju University may have happened elsewhere as well.

According to the source, fever cases and deaths began to rise at Kim Jong Thae Haeju University from June 10. This was reported to the state’s Emergency Epidemic Command, and emergency health checks were carried out on all teachers and students at the school.

Provincial and municipal public health officials concluded among themselves that the outbreak could be a variant strain of COVID-19 and made a separate report to that effect to the Central Committee. Meanwhile, authorities have mobilized across the province to provide free medicine and antibiotics sent from Pyongyang to quarantined people and even those with no symptoms.

The source said that although several students in the school’s dormitories have died, their deaths were not included in the central government’s COVID-19 statistics.

“The state’s Emergency Epidemic Command has ordered authorities to conclude that they died of a ‘new type of fever’, not the coronavirus, and reject the judgment of local health officials who believe that a variant of the virus is spreading,” the source said.

What is known so far is that those who died experienced common symptoms including high fever, chest pain and blood clots. Some also died after bouts of severe diarrhea after failing to respond to antibiotics.

Haeju health officials said that since reporting their general analysis of the spike in university deaths in Pyongyang, the situation can be brought under control by treating patients with the free drugs and encouraging the personal hygiene and good health. Officials also said that because provincial doctors cannot arbitrarily make specific medical diagnoses on their own, they would issue follow-up instructions in accordance with orders from Pyongyang.

However, many of the university’s instructors and students, as well as their family members, suggest authorities may have carried out emergency health checks as a matter of urgency as a dangerous new variant of COVID-19 struck. school.

The source added that rumors are rife, with locals saying that while the state says COVID-19 is just a cold, people who have caught the virus are suffering a bit. People are also saying that many of those who have been released from quarantine have not been given any medicine, so they may not fully recover. These rumors also suggest that many people have died from COVID-19.

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.

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