Flu epidemic: Virus ravages North Korea ahead of Winter Olympics – 200,000 infected

Saturday, February 3, 2018
By Paul Martin

A DEADLY outbreak of flu is sweeping across North Korea just days before athletes from the secretive state are due to travel south of the border to attend the Winter Olympics.

Sat, Feb 3, 2018

Around 200,000 people have already been infected with different strains of the virus and, because of its severity, Kim Jong-un’s regime is taking the rare step of asking for international help to contain the epidemic.

Nearly half of the confirmed cases are in children aged 16 or under, and the virus has claimed the lives of at least four people – three of whom were children.

On January 16, North Korean officials revealed there were more than 126,500 cases of influenza across the country, according to a report published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

But the charity estimates the number of infections has risen from the reported figure.

The IFRC says the majority of those sick with the virus have contracted the Influenza A/H1N1 strain, commonly known as swine flu.

North Korea has accepted help from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the past – including some from its sworn enemy the United States – though the activities of aid workers is relatively limited.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already sent 5,000 tablets of anti-viral medication to the hermit state, and North Korean officials have requested a further 30,000 to protect healthcare workers.

But the IFRC has now warned the outbreak may require “significant” humanitarian aid that could warrant extra support from the organisation’s disaster relief emergency fund.

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