North Korea has reportedly seen 180 soldiers killed by the coronavirus as the outbreak is sweeping the secretive state.
Kim Jong-un's regime has still not confirmed a single case of the virus which has killed almost 4,000 people around the globe.
Sources however have claimed the virus has killed 180 soldiers and more than 3,700 active servicemen are living in quarantine.. reports Daily NK.
It is claimed the North Korea military is creaking under the rate of infections, with there being "just too many bodies" to cremate.
Pyongyang reportedly fears information leaking about the infection in their army to the general population, with Kim keeping reports about the coronavirus hidden.
"I haven’t heard of corpses being cremated in military hospitals. The military leadership likely believes that suddenly asking the hospitals to cremate all the bodies would create a big headache for medical staff," a source said.
Reports of the spiralling death toll came from a report sent by army medics to the regime's military top brass.
According to the report, the soldiers who had died were predominantly stationed on or around the Sino-North Korean border in North Pyongan, Chagang, Ryanggang, and North Hamgyong.
South Korea remains one of the most infected nations in the world with more than 7,000 confirmed cases, second only to China where the virus originated.
North Korea's military leadership are reportedly in panic at the report – with additional measures now being rolled out to fight the infection.
Commanders have issued orders for all corpses to be "thoroughly disinfected" as they cannot burn them fast enough to cope with the death toll.
The regime has also ordered military hospitals to be disinfected on a daily basis, spraying the wards down with methanol to combat the virus.
And military leaders have ordered soldiers with "weak" immune systems or a history of disease to be placed under observation.
North Korea army officers are also reportedly going to be "held responsible" for any deaths that have occurred in their units from coronavirus.
Kim is also upping the rations to his men in a bid to stave of the malnutrition that runs rampant through North Korea's army.
Reportedly military chiefs are now handing out three meals of soybean soup a day, instead the usual one.
Fears rage over the extent of the outbreak in North Korea, with the highly guarded regime remaining tight lipped on the extent of the spread from its neighbour China.
North Korea have also reportedly been disposing of bodies quietly to avoid panic amid the potential epidemic.
Pyongyang reacted early during the outbreak – shutting down its borders to tourists from China as early reports emerged from Wuhan.
The regime reportedly shot dead a public official who visited a public baths while being suspected of having coronavirus.
Extreme quarantine is reportedly being rolled out in Pyongyang as its seen as the regime's top priority with its population of three million.
State-media articles within North Korea have also said the virus is a “fight” and is a matter for “survival” of the state.
North Korea scholar Professor Robert E. Kelly said an epidemic in North Korea would be a “matter of national survival”.
He compared it to the famine which ravaged the hermit kingdom in the nineties – which ended up killing up to 3.5 million people.
Writing for National Interest, Professor Kelly explained that Kim knows his hermit kingdom does not have the resources to fight back against coronavirus.
Professor Kelly, from Pusan National University, wrote: “North Korea lacks the doctors, hospitals, reserves of medicine, modern medical devices, and so on to respond adequately and prevent a spiraling spread.
“An epidemic would be, as the regime itself realized, a matter of national survival.
He added: “ Pyongyang has neither the resources nor the administrative culture – transparency, empiricism divorced from ideology, technocracy – to respond to a genuine epidemic.
“Sustained foreign assistance and, failing that, brutal repression would almost certainly be necessary to prevent a local plague.”
The professor also North Korea’s healthcare system has been “broken for decades” and would be unable to cope.
Professor Kelly however did say a small outbreak would be able to be contained by Pyongyang.
He explained an hint the coronavirus in North Korea would snap Kim’s regime into action.
The expert predicted a campaign of repression would be launched to crackdown on any potential victims.
Choi Jung-hun, a former doctor in North Korea who escaped the regime in 2011, also said Pyongyang does not have the resources to operate full-scale quarantine.
He worked on a measles outbreak within the country in 2006 to 2007 and said medics were ill-equipped to fight back.
“The problem in North Korea is that manuals are not followed,” the physician explained.
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“When there wasn't enough food provided for the people at hospitals and quarantine facilities, people escaped to look for food.”
And with North Korea facing the threat of the epidemic, the country could also see its already crippling economic problems worsen.
- North Korea Dprk
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