North Korea quietly bought a large amount of medical supplies before announcing the COVID-19 epidemic
North Korean state media reported on a fever outbreak two weeks ago, raising concerns about a potential shortage of vaccines, medical equipment and food. The data that China has just released shows that, before making this announcement, North Korea had begun to hoard necessary goods.
There has been no information on North Korea’s launch of a COVID-19 vaccination campaign. However, in February of this year, China exported $311,126 worth of vaccines to the neighboring country, according to newly released data. China has not reported vaccine exports for any other month this year, nor all of last year.
According to the latest data, in the period from January to April, North Korea bought more than 10.6 million masks from China, previously did not buy this item in December 2021.
In the aforementioned four months, China exported nearly 95,000 thermometers, 33 times more than the total number of thermometers purchased in 2021.
China also exported 1,000 non-invasive ventilators to North Korea in April, earning $266,891, along with laboratory equipment that can be used to test for COVID-19. Other medical items include gloves and protective clothing.
China’s total exports to North Korea in April reached $98.1 million, the highest level since January 2020.
North Korea halted virtually all cross-border trade for most of the pandemic, only recently allowing the resumption of some rail and water freight from China.
According to Reuters
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