A group of returned North Korean refugees suspected of being infected with coronavirus have been quarantined among terminal tuberculosis patients because the government do not care if they contract the disease while in containment, sources have claimed.
An unidentified source said 20 refugees crossed the border into China in early January but 15 of them were caught shortly after and taken to a detention centre in the People’s Republic.
They were then sent back to North Korea in a secret operation, before being bundled into an isolation ward at a tuberculosis hospital ‘where terminal TB patients go to die.’
A 2018 file photo shows the inside of the Pyongyang Tuberculosis hospital in Pyongyang, North Korea. Unlike the Pyongyang hospital, the Sopungsan facility is where incurable patients are sent to die
An undated photo shows images of workers spraying buses amid the coronavirus scare. It was reported earlier today that 500 Red Cross workers have been dispatched to North Korea to proceed with ‘quarantine operations’
A December 2019 file photo shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a party conference in North Korea. Kim Jong Un’s regime is known for withholding information regarding the country’s public health data, regarding it a closely-held state secret
‘Sopungsan tuberculosis hospital is famous because patients are sent there when they have the most dangerous types of open-case tuberculosis [including the drug-resistant Super-TB],’ the source told RFA.
‘It’s like the authorities don’t even care if these people become infected with tuberculosis,’ the source said.
The escape at the start of the new year caused a ‘state of emergency’ among the military, the source said, due to fears over rocketing rates of coronavirus diagnoses in China.
Kim Jong-Un’s regime has only confirmed one case of the novel strain, temporarily dubbed 2019-nCoV, but the country is known for misleading or denying the international community access to its public health data, holding it as a closely-guarded state secret.
The respiratory illness has killed 1,016 and infected over 42,000 people, most of them in neighbouring China.
Today, 500 Red Cross workers were dispatched to border towns and cities in North Korea for ‘quarantine opearations’, the disaster healthcare provider said.
A graphic shows the worldwide rates of the coronavirus infection as of 11 February 2020
Contrary to the party line, reports from the border city of Sinuiju suggest people are already dying from the disease and that infections may have reached the capital Pyongyang.
RFA reported that usually, families of people captured in China and returned to North Korea aren’t aware until the military investigation is concluded.
With the 15 refugees, one of whom was a child, their families were told to bring food, clothes, and firewood.
This is due to beliefs among the regime that the ‘coronavirus crisis won’t end any time soon’.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection spread between people by coughing and sneezing.
The infection usually affects the lungs but the bacteria can cause problems in any part of the body, including the abdomen, glands, bones and the nervous system.
TB infection causes symptoms like fever, coughing, night sweats, weight loss, tiredness and fatigue, a loss of appetite and swellings in the neck.