North Korea accelerates production of anti-Covid-19 medicines and medical supplies

North Korea has ramped up production of medical supplies to treat patients while building more isolation wards and stepping up disinfection efforts nationwide.

“Production units in the medical field, including Nampo Medical Equipment Factory, are making rapid progress in production and supply across the country,” North Korea’s central news agency KCNA said today.

Products North Korea is now focused on exporting include thermometers, needles and traditional medicines with analgesic and antipyretic properties that are said to be “effective in preventing and treating dangerous diseases.” KCNA added that thousands of tons of salt were brought to the capital Pyongyang to make disinfectant solutions while many isolation areas were set up and disinfection activities stepped up.

Kim Jong-un inspects a pharmacy in Pyongyang on May 15.  Photo: KCNA.

Kim Jong-un inspects a pharmacy in Pyongyang on May 15. Photo: KCNA.

The information came after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said that “the state’s ability to respond to the crisis is still weak” and the “inactive, lax and passive attitude of top officials” during the outbreak of Covid-19 criticized.

North Korea yesterday reported another 262,270 cases of fever, bringing the total number of people with the symptom to nearly two million, of whom 63 have died. North Korean media has not specified how many fevers and deaths have tested positive for nCoV.

North Korea announced last week that the first case of Covid-19 was detected in the capital, Pyongyang. A day later, the country confirmed that hundreds of thousands of fever cases had been recorded across the country since late April. Leader Kim Jong-un ordered a nationwide blockade to prevent the spread of Covid-19 while an army joined the fight against the epidemic.

North Korea has one of the world’s poorest healthcare systems, experts say, with poorly equipped hospitals, few intensive care units, no drugs to treat Covid-19 and an inability to conduct extensive testing. North Korean state media are encouraging people to treat Covid-19 at home with antipyretic drugs, antibiotics and herbal teas.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed “deep concern about the risk of further spread of Covid-19 in North Korea, particularly given the unvaccinated population and many people with the disease”. putting them at risk of deterioration and death.”

The US and South Korea have indicated their willingness to help North Korea deal with the pandemic, but have received no response. An unnamed diplomatic source said three North Korean Air Koryo planes arrived in China to receive medical supplies and returned to Pyongyang earlier this week.

vu appendix (Corresponding KCNA)