Pandemic-hit North Korea has asked China to resume suspended regular freight train service between the two countries.
In doing so, the country wants to prioritize solving its severe shortages of food and medical supplies, exacerbated by the suspension of freight train service, rather than keeping the novel coronavirus at bay, according to multiple sources in China. informed about the situation in North Korea.
“The state’s epidemic prevention operation has taken a crucial turn – moving from the lockdown phase to implementing lockdowns and eradicating the virus at the same time,” said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the plenary meeting of the central committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea was held from June 8 to 10, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea is calling for the resumption of freight train service between Sinuiju in the country and Dandong in China.
It was first suspended in January 2020, when North Korea sealed its border with China in response to the spread of the new coronavirus in the country.
The service resumed in January this year, but the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on April 29 that it was again suspended following discussions between the two countries.
Strict measures to restrict people’s behavior were in place in late April in Dandong to stem the spread of the virus.
The number of patients with fever symptoms in North Korea is believed to have started to rise sharply in late April.
As a result, freight train service is believed to have been suspended for the second time as the two countries grew more alarmed over the virus.
North Korea has been vigilant for some time against the possibility of the new coronavirus entering the country from China.
However, North Korea has decided that food and supply shortages are more serious than the pandemic, the sources say, after concluding that the Omicron variant, which would spread in the country, is less likely to cause serious symptoms. .
China is cautious in its decision to resume rail service, however, as it remains suspicious that the virus could enter from North Korea across the border, the sources say.
June 12 marked a month after North Korea went public with the existence of Omicron patients in the country and it now stresses that the pandemic situation there is “stable”.
Although the spread of the virus is decreasing in Pyongyang, it remains severe in some farming villages across the country, the sources said.
The spread of the virus in North Korea coincided with the start of the agricultural season in the country.
The virus is believed to have spread to North Korea because the country, which suffers from chronic food shortages, tried to secure an agricultural labor force by lifting lockdowns in various regions.
The country is once again restricting people’s behavior in areas where rice planting work has been completed.
According to the Korean Central News Agency, about 4.5 million fever patients have been reported in North Korea since late April.
As North Korea does not have adequate COVID-19 testing capabilities, suspected cases are reported as patients with symptoms of fever.
The country is believed to have recently recorded daily new fever patients between 30,000 and 39,999.
However, many South Korean experts on North Korea doubt the reliability of these figures.
Thus, the true extent of the pandemic in North Korea remains unclear.
(This article was written by Kim Soonhi in Shenyang and Kiyohide Inada in Seoul.)