North Korea tries to dispel COVID-19 misinformation

North Korea has claimed there have zero cases of COVID-19 in the country. File Photo by DPRK Today
North Korea has claimed there have zero cases of COVID-19 in the country. File Photo by DPRK Today

March 11 (UPI) -- North Korea may be trying to combat "fake news" regarding the new strain of coronavirus, much like other countries that are trying to deal with various and often contradictory information about COVID-19, as the death toll topped 4,300 worldwide by Wednesday.

Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun issued an article on Wednesday addressing the issue of asymptomatic transmission. But at a time when medical experts are still learning about the disease, North Korean state media could be adding to the problem of misinformation in the country.


According to the Rodong, there is rising concern regarding the spread of the coronavirus due to the presence of people who do not show symptoms.

"Asymptomatic patients may already be a source of infections," the North Korean article read. "The disease could worsen among asymptomatic patients. They must take antiviral drugs with the help of doctors until they test negative for the virus."

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The statement comes at a time when U.S. experts say it is "unclear" how asymptomatic transmission occurs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it is "not yet known" the role asymptomatic infection plays in transmission.


The North Korean newspaper also stated coughing alone is not a sign an individual is infected with COVID-19.

"Many people shoot strange glares at a person who coughs nearby and suspects that person," the Rodong said. "However, coughing itself is not a disease."

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Cho Han-bum, a senior research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul, told South Korean newspaper Hankook Ilbo North Koreans may be on high alert due to the outbreak.

Despite claims from the Kim Jong Un regime that North Korea has zero cases of COVID-19, the mobilization of North Korea's "emergency defense system" would be interpreted among the population as a crisis, Cho said.

Pyongyang's state media is also stressing patriotism amid the epidemic, according to South Korean news service News 1.

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