NORTH Korea has taken extreme measures to fend off the coronavirus, including laying landmines in border areas with China.
Insiders from Seoul's National Intelligence Service (NIS) in neighbouring South Korea revealed the dictatorship has buried landmines along its border with China and could sentence officials to death for failing to control the disease.
The agency warned that North Korea is taking the extraordinary steps amid fears Covid-19 could have devastating consequences on the country because of its poor medical infrastructure.
During a closed-door session at the Intelligence Committee of the National Assembly, Rep. Ha Tae-keung of the main opposition People Power Party warned there is “something like coronavirus trauma in North Korea”.
“Since there is no physical or technical means to deal with the coronavirus, there is something like coronavirus trauma in North Korea,” Ha quoted the NIS as saying.
The North has blocked its borders and buried landmines
“The North has blocked its borders and buried landmines in parts of the border areas with China,” Ha added.
Its emergency law stipulates officials who fail to control the disease could be sentenced to death, according to the NIS.
“There are cases where critical patients were transported by rail wagons because there is a risk of transmission if they are transported by train,” he explained.
The NIS also reported the North is not receiving any supplies from the outside, including from South Korea, due to coronavirus fears.
“Officials who brought in goods via a customs office in August were punished on a large scale,” Ha said.
A document from a meeting of the North's ruling Workers' Party on February 27 warned that up to 500,000 people could die if the virus spreads in the country, according to the NIS.
The secretive country’s autocrat leader Kim Jong-un has claimed there are no cases of Covid-19 in North Korea, despite neighbours South Korea reporting around 27,000 infections and 474 deaths and China topping 91,000 cases and more than 4,700 deaths.
Analysts have said it is highly unlikely the country of almost 26 million people has experienced no coronavirus cases at all.
Campaigners claim despot Jong-un is hiding the true horrors inflicted by the killer pandemic from the rest of the world by hiding victims in secret “quarantine camps”.
Coronavirus "quarantine camps" have been purpose-built for patients in cities near the Chinese border, sources have told Tim Peters, a Christian activist who runs Seoul-based NGO Helping Hands Korea.
But, he said those isolated in the camps are not receiving proper medical attention, and are being left to starve to death.
In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Peters said he had learned that North Korea's government “is providing absolutely minimal or no food or medicine to those who are interred there”.
He added: “My sources indicate many in these camps have already died, not only from the pandemic but also from starvation and related causes.”
North Korea has been on high alert since January with strict border closures and restrictions on movement as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded across the world.
Last month, state TV warned its citizens to stay indoors over claims that “yellow dust” which blows in from Mongolian and Chinese deserts at certain times of year could bring coronavirus with it.
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