Hundreds of families ill with intestinal disease, North Korea says

North Korea said Friday that hundreds of families had fallen ill with an unidentified intestinal disease, heaping pressure on a crumbling healthcare system already strained by COVID-19.

Pyongyang announced its first coronavirus cases last month and activated a “maximum emergency epidemic prevention system”, with leader Kim Jong Un putting himself front and centre of the government’s response.

The new virus was said to have torn through the unvaccinated population of 25 million, with more than 4.5 million cases of “fever” and 73 deaths to date, according to figures published by state media.

Building on the country’s woes, the official KCNA, this week, announced a new “acute enteric epidemic” in South Hwanghae province, with Kim urging officials expected to “contain the epidemic at the earliest date possible.”

In a possible sign of the seriousness of the situation, Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister, was one of a group of senior officials who reportedly personally donated medicine to try and help.

The medicine will be delivered to “over 800 families suffering from the acute epidemic which broke out in some areas of South Hwanghae Province,” state media KCNA reported Friday.

The figure suggests at least 1,600 people have been infected with the enteric disease.

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