North Korean authorities were alerting the public of spreading coronavirus cases back in late March — despite despot dictator Kim Jong-un continuing to deny the existence of the virus in his country, according to a new report.
Officials in the hermit kingdom alerted residents that the cases were popping up in three specific locations, anonymous sources told Radio-Free Asia.
“[They] held a lecture session for all the residents titled ‘Let’s all work together on the coronavirus quarantine project to [successfully] implement the Supreme Leader’s policies,’” a resident in Ryanggang province, who requested anonymity, told RFA.
The lecturers said that positive tests for the virus have come back in the capital, Pyongyang, as well as the South Hwanghae province in the southwest and the North Hamgyong province, in the northwest, the outlet reported.
The lecturers at the mandatory meetings did not detail how many confirmed cases were documented.
As the virus spread around the world, Pyongyang had fortified its borders and ordered any foreigner from a country that has reported a COVID-19 case to quarantine for 30 days.
Kim’s officials touted those polices when they claimed the virus had not yet hit the country, even as the pandemic spread throughout its neighboring countries.
“Not one single person has been infected with the novel coronavirus in our country so far,” said Pak Myong Su, the director of the anti-epidemic department of North Korea’s Central Emergency Anti-epidemic Headquarters, at an April 1 news conference, according to RFA.
The confirmed cases hit an underprepared North Korean healthcare system where some hospitals don’t even have reliable running water and electricity, the RFA reported
North Korea has still not officially reported a single case as of early Sunday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.