The force labour centre saw an outbreak of paratyphoid and typhoid fever among inmates of the facility. Dongrim County authorities suspended family visits and placed a blanket ban on all outside food being sent into the camp over the outbreak. It follows speculation over North Korea’s coronavirus handling, after Kim Jong-un hailed the countries response to the global pandemic.
A source in North Pyongan Province spoke to Daily NK about the horror typhoid outbreak.
They claimed more than 20 inmates at the camp were diagnosed with the virus in mid-September.
They added North Korean authorities mobilised a huge anti-pandemic effort across multiple departments.
The source said: “The Ministry of Social Security, provincial security bureau, county party committee and county Ministry of Social Security office helped mobilise the local anti-epidemic office and capable doctors to deal with the situation.”
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Local authorities have pointed the blame at poor water quality in the area after the shock outbreak.
The source also claimed authorities at the camp believed “bacteria” in food sent from outside the facility is responsible for the outbreak.
They added: “Inmates at the labour camp must perform a lot of hard labour, but I’m hearing that they are unable to perform that well on the food currently provided by the camp authorities, and they are openly complaining they will have difficulties carrying out their work if they can no longer receive the food sent in by their families.”
Since the outbreak, 19 people have been quarantined away from their families at Dongrim County People’s Hospital.
North Korea refuses to release public health data about the wellbeing of its citizens.
In June, authorities handed down orders to local leaders to prevent the spread of typhoid and COVID-19 by improving hygiene practices.
The North Korean Ministry of Public Health added in its order North Koreans tend to seek treatment from unlicensed individuals rather than at hospitals, raising fears infectious diseases could grow or spread without a clear diagnosis.
Authorities also issued orders to citizens to boil water before drinking after they failed to properly sterilise their supply.
It follows Mr Kim’s government refusing to confirm any cases of coronavirus in the country since the pandemic began.
But in July, he ordered the city of Kaesong to be locked down after someone was found to have symptoms.
This followed him praising his government’s response to the pandemic as a “shining success”.
North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations has also urged world leaders to show “effective leadership” in tackling the pandemic together.