Acute respiratory infections spreading in North Korea, U.N. agency says

SEOUL, Oct. 19 (UPI) — Acute respiratory infections are circulating in flood-hit regions of North Korea.

The World Health Organization said in a recently issued report on the North Korea floods that the number of patients suffering from the diseases continued to escalate in early October, Voice of America reported.

The region most affected is North Hamgyong Province in the country’s northeast.

Acute respiratory infections began spreading in early September after massive flooding occurred from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2, around the same time the number of children in North Korea suffering from diarrheal diseases quadrupled.

Severe acute malnutrition is also on the rise for children under age 5, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

But the WHO said the overall number of people suffering from diarrhea, including adults, is on the decline. No deaths related to the infections have been reported.

The United Nations agency also stated North Korea is operating a system of countrywide surveillance that identifies infectious diseases as they become known to the state.

North Korea is operating a “comprehensive disaster situation room” that runs 24 hours a day and has a response strategy to potential contagions, according to the report.

In a separate statement OCHA has said clean water and sanitation is urgently needed in North Korea to prevent the further spread of waterborne diseases.

Medicine and medical equipment are in scarce supply, the U.N. agency has said.

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