Wednesday July 06, 2022

North Korea sent planes to China for Covid supplies

May 20, 2022

SEOUL: North Korea sent three of its largest cargo planes to China to pick up medical supplies to help with a spiralling Covid outbreak, local media reports say.

Pyongyang announced its first-ever Covid cases last week and has since reported nearly two million cases of "fever" and 63 deaths as the virus tears through its unvaccinated population. State media reports do not specify how many of the cases and deaths have tested positive for Covid, but experts say the country’s crumbling health system would struggle to test and diagnose on this scale.

The outbreak was an admission that Pyongyang’s rigid two-year-long coronavirus blockade, maintained at great economic cost since the start of the pandemic, had failed. Both South Korea issued a fresh offer of aid last week, but Pyongyang has yet to respond to Seoul’s offer, officials said.

Beijing -- the last major economy to maintain a Zero Covid policy, which is battling its own nationwide outbreaks -- also made a fresh offer of assistance to Pyongyang.