An epidemic in North Korea could be devastating, considering its poor health care system and chronic lack of medical supplies.

The World Health Organization has started shipping COVID-19 medical supplies into North Korea, a possible sign that the North is easing one of the world’s strictest pandemic border closures to receive outside help.

WHO said in a weekly monitoring report that it has started the shipment of essential COVID-19 medical supplies through the Chinese port of Dalian for “strategic stockpiling and further dispatch” to North Korea.

Edwin Salvador, WHO’s representative to North Korea, said in an email to the Associated Press Thursday that some items, including emergency health kits and medicine, have reached the North Korean port of Nampo after North Korean authorities allowed the WHO and other U.N. agencies to send supplies that had been stuck in Dalian.

While North Korea has yet to report a single case of COVID-19, outside experts widely doubt it escaped the illness that had touched nearly every other place in the world.

Experts say an epidemic in North Korea could be devastating, considering its poor health care system and chronic lack of medical supplies.

But despite implementing severe border controls, North Korea hasn’t shown the same kind of urgency for vaccines even as its mass immunization campaign continues to be delayed amid global shortages.

 

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