North Korean leader Kim Jong Un dispatched aid to 800 families following reports of an acute enteric epidemic that fell on residents of Haeju City and Kangryong County in Hwanghae Province. Medicines, food, daily necessities and other aid supplies were prepared by officials of the Workers’ Party of Korea Central Committee along with their families and were transported to affected areas suffering a still unidentified intestinal illness.

According to KCNA, WPK officials visited households of affected residents as they met with other organizations to learn more about the mysterious epidemic that hit the region last June 17. Officials are hopeful of finding the origin of the illness as well as a viable treatment. Kim called on his leaders to fulfill their duty in easing the people’s suffering as soon as possible. The state media said afflicted residents in the province were in tears upon receiving the medicine and supply aid. Vehicles loaded with supplies and medical treatment were warmly welcomed by residents and students.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry suspects an outbreak of cholera or typhoid as Seoul continues to monitor the situation in the North in their efforts to maintain strong inter-Korean affairs. Reports currently focus on the number of patients afflicted with fever symptoms but stray from the actual confirmed number of confirmed Covid cases. Concerns have been raised over a possible food shortage being that South Hwanghae Province is a key agricultural region in the North. An epidemic could mean an adverse impact on the production of food that could worsen the chronic food shortages amid the current wave of Covid-19 infections in North Korea.

On Friday, the state media reported over 23,000 people experiencing fever symptoms. This brings the total to more than 4.58 million people who were infected and a total of 73 deaths. North Korea claims that more than 99% of fever cases have recovered and that its Covid wave has declined. However, the World Health Organization has doubts about Pyongyang’s claims and said the situation is getting much worse. North Korea’s reports on these numbers could be inaccurate mainly due to the country’s lack of testing abilities to determine the actual numbers of infected people as well as a non-existent Covid-19 vaccination program.

Health officials disinfect the work place at the Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory Health officials disinfect the work place at the Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory in Pyongyang on June 16, 2022. Photo by Kim Won Jin/AFP via Getty Images