North Korea battles outbreak of unidentified disease

STORY: North Korea on Thursday announced a new infectious disease outbreak, even as the country battles to contain its first wave of COVID-19.

Pyongyang has not identified the new infection.

But South Korean officials and experts have said it could be cholera or typhoid spreading in the water supply.

So far, no details on how many people have been infected.

According to North Korean state media, Leader Kim Jong Un has sent medicine to help those suffering from the “acute enteric epidemic.”

Enteric – meaning to do with the gastrointestinal system.

The outbreak is spreading in a key agricultural region.

And that raised concerns it could make an already dire food shortage even worse.

South Korea said it was monitoring the situation.

According to one official, Seoul has signaled its willingness to help out in the case of any disease outbreak including a proposal to send COVID-19 vaccines.

But, so far, Pyongyang has remained unresponsive.

North Korea does not identify COVID-19 cases as such, apparently due to a lack of testing kits.

Instead, it gives a daily figure for the number of fever patients.

That figure was more than 26,000 on Thursday, bringing the total number of such cases to more than four and a half million.

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