first_img Tracking the “unidentified yellow substance” being dried out near the Yongbyon Nuclear Center North Korea hikes “party contributions” Russia-based workers must pay by 30-55% News Analysis & Opinion Hamhung man arrested for corruption while working at a state-run department store It has been over a year since North Korean authorities locked down the border in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As all routes to North Korea have been blocked, North Koreans have begun worrying about how to survive. Due to the lockdown, they are unable to import items to sell in local markets. For many North Koreans, the means to make money has suddenly disappeared.In fact, the lockdown has had a significant impact on the country’s markets. The consequences have been readily seen in the inflation of commodity prices. About two weeks after the lockdown, flour had risen by 47%, soybean oil by 68%, and sugar by 22%.As prices soared and the discontent felt by North Koreans increased, North Korean authorities attempted to control prices by releasing rice, bean oil, and sugar to the market and setting price ceilings for merchants. However, these efforts were unable to resolve the more fundamental problem of stabilizing people’s lives.North Korean merchants have been struggling with various difficulties over the past year, including a shortage of supplies, rising prices, and tightened market regulations. Daily NK recently asked a North Korean businessman who sells food in a local market about the current situation in the country.DNK: What is the biggest change in the North Korean market before and after the border lockdown?“The most noticeable difference is that market hours have been reduced. Currently, the market is open from 2 PM to 6 PM. This restriction has been in place since April of last year. I think that trying to finish a day’s business in four hours has been very difficult. Furthermore, we are currently not even able to go to the market every day. To reduce the number of people going to the market, merchants are only allowed to go to the market once in two days.However, merchants are adapting to the situation. Even if they do not go to the market, they tell people to call them by phone if they need any items delivered to them. Although the market is only open for four hours, consumers buy them during this time. However, we still make less than what we did before the lockdown.”commodity prices brokerNorth Korean merchants sell goods on the fringes of a market in Sunchon, South Pyongan Province in October 2018. / Image: Daily NKDNK: Have the North Korean authorities recently imposed further measures to control the market?“Recently, there have been no specific instructions regarding the market. However, the government carries out daily inspections because of the virus. People’s temperatures are taken when they enter the market. People who have fevers are unable to enter the market. They are particularly strict about examining the temperatures of people who sell food. These merchants are only allowed to conduct business after their temperature has been recorded in a market management office ledger and they have received permission [to sell things in the market]. In some cases, merchants have arrived with all their food prepared, only to be turned back because they have high temperatures.”DNK: It has been reported that since the border lockdown, the restriction on imported items from China has made it difficult to find Chinese-made food, clothes, or industrial goods in the market. Are there any items that are especially hard to find in the market these days?“It is hard to find imports of real [not imitation] medicine. There are many people looking for medicine, but because there’s no medicine [being imported], [medicine] is not being sold. People often continue to buy Chinese condiments and sugar, even though prices have increased greatly. However, there are no medicine products, whether for colds, diarrhea, or antibiotics, so the merchants cannot satisfy people’s demands. The price of North Korean medicine has also gone up significantly. They say it is hardest to find medicine in the market.”DNK: What is the most popular item on the market these days?“Since people pay a lot of attention to just surviving, they buy many food products. As rice is cheap these days, some people are buying a year’s worth of rice in advance. After February, the price of rice typically increases until June, so people who can afford it are stocking up on their rice now. Recently, many meat products, wild greens, and other vegetables are also being bought up.” DNK: North Korean authorities are controlling the price of rice to ensure that people can afford it, and it seems like rice prices have gone down since before the lockdown. Has the authorities’ efforts to stabilize the price of rice been beneficial to people’s lives?“It is true that these measures are helpful. People say that although they have fallen upon hard times, they are relieved that at least the price of rice has dropped. Rice-based food products are also being sold more in the market. Rice cakes are KPW 1,000, sundae KPW 7,000, popcorn KPW 5,000, and corn candy about KPW 4,000, so the prices are similar to those before the lockdown. I think that because at least we have a market, people are able to sell things for money and buy things to eat. I just hope the lockdown will end soon so that we can go back to business as before.”*Translated by Esther RaPlease direct any comments or questions about this article to [email protected] in Koreancenter_img News SHARE Facebook Twitter AvatarSeulkee JangSeulkee Jang is one of Daily NK’s full-time journalists. 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first_imgDec 2, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that oseltamivir (Tamiflu)-resistant pandemic H1N1 cases in hospital settings suggest that treatment doses may need to be increased in immunocompromised patients who have flu symptoms.The agency made this statement after a teleconference with experts about two recent clusters of resistant cases. It also concluded that the events don’t signal a public health threat.The WHO, in a statement, said emergence of drug-resistant flu in severely immunosuppressed or immunocompromised patients is expected and has been well documented in seasonal flu.In late October a Welsh hospital detected an outbreak of oseltamivir-resistant pandemic H1N1 in eight patients who had severe hematologic disorders. Edwina Hart, health minister for the Welsh Assembly Government, said today in a statement that three of the patients appear to have been infected in the hospital.Three are still hospitalized, one in critical care. All are responding to treatment with a different antiviral, she said.Hart said so far there is no evidence that the resistant strain spread outside the hospital and that it does not appear to be any more severe than nonresistant strains.In the United States between mid October and early November, four cases occurred in severely immunocompromised patients who were hospitalized at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina. Three of the patients died, but officials aren’t sure what role the pandemic H1N1 virus played in their deaths.The hospital said in a statement today that extensive testing and screening by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the state and the university, have shown no other cases of oseltamivir-resistant pandemic flu so far. Daniel Sexton, MD, an infectious disease specialist and director of the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network, said more work is under way to better understand the nature of the four cases.The WHO said investigations at the two hospitals are reassuring and that the resistant virus has not been detected in any staff caring for the patients, which suggests that it doesn’t spread easily to otherwise healthy people, particularly when good infection controls are in place. It said surveillance found no spread to other hospital wards or the wider community.Experts participating in the WHO’s conference call emphasized that severely immunocompromised patients are especially vulnerable to infection, difficult to treat, and more likely to develop resistance, the agency said. They urged physicians to be extremely vigilant with these patients, because their underlying conditions or treatment may mask early flu symptoms and oseltamivir resistance can develop rapidly.Though clinical judgment is still key, doctors who treat immunocompromised patients for flu symptoms may need to increase the oseltamivir dose and continue it without interruption during the course of acute illness, the WHO said.Once physicians detect oseltamivir-resistant pandemic H1N1 in a ward treating these vulnerable patients, they should consider switching to zanamivir as the drug of choice for treatment and prophylaxis.Experiences with oseltamivir-resistant seasonal H1N1 show how quickly the strains can spread and become established, and neuraminidase inhibitors have improved clinical outcomes in patients with severe pandemic flu, the WHO stated. “This experience underscores the need to protect the effectiveness of these drugs by minimizing the occurrence and impact of drug resistance.”Over the past 2 weeks the number of documented oseltamivir-resistant H1N1 cases has risen from 57 to 96, in line with recent increases in global pandemic activity and a resulting increase in use of the drug, the WHO reported. About a third of the cases occurred in patients who had hematologic malignancy, were undergoing chemotherapy, or were undergoing post transplant treatment.”The clusters in the two hospital wards should be viewed in the context of these overall trends,” the WHO said, adding that though all oseltamivir-resistant cases warrant investigation, there’s no evidence that they are a public health threat.See also:Dec 2 WHO pandemic briefing notelast_img read more