The southwestern region of North Korea is currently fighting an outbreak of an “unidentified gastrointestinal disease,” according to state media.
At least 800 families in South Hwanghae province are suffering from what was described as an “acute enteric epidemic,” CNN reported, citing the country’s state news agency KCNA.
The outbreak, which was first reported Thursday, may be cholera or typhoid, South Korean officials said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent medicines to Haeju City, which is the administrative center of South Hwanghae province, according to KCNA.
“[Kim] stressed the need to contain the epidemic at the earliest date possible by taking a well-knit measure to quarantine the suspected cases to thoroughly curb its spread,” KCNA was quoted as saying by Sky News.
North Korea has also dispatched medical crews and epidemiological investigators to the province, and a national “Rapid Diagnosis and Treatment Team” is now working with local health officials, the state-run news agency reported Sunday.
Prevention efforts included quarantines, “intensive screening for all residents,” as well as special treatment and monitoring of vulnerable people such as children and the elderly, according to KCNA.
In addition, disinfection work of sewage and other waste, among other things, is being carried out to ensure the safety of drinking and household water, the report said.
Measures are also being taken to ensure that farming is not disrupted in the key agricultural area.
Enteric diseases, or illnesses that occur in the intestines, could spread through infected people’s belongings, food and drinks, Ryu Yong Chol, the official in charge of emergency epidemic work in North Korea, warned the public on state television Monday.
Strictly isolating patients is important to prevent a disease’s spread, he said.
News of North Korea’s outbreak comes as the country continues to battle COVID-19, or what it calls “fevered cases,” per CNN.
More than 4.6 million people in the country have shown fever symptoms since its government acknowledged a coronavirus outbreak in mid-May.
Another 19,310 new “fever” cases were reported by KCNA Sunday. About 73 “fever” deaths have been reported as of that day.
Despite its current situation, North Korea has refused to accept international help with immunization.