SEOUL, South Korea — Days after confirming its first COVID-19 outbreak, North Korea sent planes to China to pick up medical supplies, media reported on Tuesday, May 17.
Three Air Koryo planes from North Korea went to Shenyang, China, on Monday, and returned later that day with medical supplies, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing unnamed sources.
“They could operate additional flights as the amount they shipped this time doesn’t seem enough,” Yonhap quoted a source as saying, referring to the KCNA via REUTERS Koreans.
Because of the highly infectious nature of the omicron variant, the World Health Organization’s chairman said China’s extreme approach to containing the coronavirus is unsustainable, but North Korea is ready to help
Following similar remarks last week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described China’s “zero-COVID” strategy as “not sustainable” during a press conference on Tuesday.
North Korea is dealing with its first COVID outbreak, which it verified last week, raising fears of a massive public health disaster owing to a shortage of immunizations and medical facilities.
China’s foreign ministry official said the country was unaware of the media claims and declined to comment on any help to North Korea.
China had previously stated that if North Korea requested assistance, it would provide it.
Satellite imagery, according to NK News of South Korea, showed unusual activity at an international airport in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, on Sunday, perhaps indicating preparations for the flights.
According to North Korea’s official KCNA news agency, there were 1.48 million people with fever symptoms as of Monday evening, with 56 deaths.
The number of persons who tested positive for COVID was not stated.