'Scores' of N.Korean Soldiers Dead of Coronavirus

  • By Kim Myong-song

    March 30, 2020 12:22

    More than 100 North Korean stationed near the Chinese border are thought to have died of coronavirus since late February, the Yomiuri Shimbun claimed Sunday.

    The Japanese daily quoted intelligence sources from South Korea, the U.S., and Japan as saying the outbreak started in the border region but is now spreading across the impoverished country, and military training has been halted.

    The regime claims there have no coronavirus infections and nobody has died from the epidemic.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (center) and military officials watch a firing drill at an unidentified location on March 20, in this photo from the North's official Rodong Sinmum daily.

    Last week, the official [North] Koran Central News Agency said that about 2,280 North Koreans including returnees from abroad and those who came into contact with them have been put "under medical monitoring" across the country.

    "The regime says that there are no confirmed cases there because they have no test kits," a source said.

    The daily speculated that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and senior military officers were seen without masks recently in a bid to calm public fears but that the situation is in fact serious.

    On March 13, U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Robert Abrams said he is sure that the North has not escaped the outbreak. "What I do know is that their armed forces has been fundamentally on lockdown for about 30 days, and only recently have they started routine training again," Abrams said. "As one example, they didn't fly an airplane for 24 days."

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