North Korea's coronavirus victims are being left to starve to death in secret quarantine camps as Kim Jong-un continues to hide the pandemic, according to reports.
The despot leader has always maintained not a single inhabitant of the Hermit Kingdom has contracted Covid-19, but one British ex-pat says the situation is "gravely serious".
Christian activist Tim Peters understands purpose-built isolation zones near the Chinese border are keeping desperate patients hidden and without proper medical care.
Mr Peters, who runs Helping Hands Korea in Seoul, said the families of those struck down with the virus are having to try and smuggle food into the hidden camps.
He told the South China Morning Post he was "alarmed" to learn Kim's government is "providing absolutely minimal or no food or medicine to those who are interred there".
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"So, it’s up to the families of the quarantined citizens to come to the edge of the camps and bring food to keep [them] alive along with whatever health-related aids that they can muster."
But much of the medication is simply herbal home remedies, while many inmates have already died, Mr Peters said he has been told by sources.
Meanwhile, pastor David Lee, who helps North Korean defectors in Seoul, said Covid has been disregarded by Kim's regime as a "ghost disease", while worryingly officials have no system for tracking the spread.
He has described how many of those showing symptoms are being "boarded up in their homes" and left to starve.
At an event to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean Workers' Party last month, Kim thanked thousands of troops for helping to supposedly prevent the virus reaching the country.
He again repeated that not a single citizen had been infected.
Whether or not this is true, the North Korean economy has been hit hard by the worldwide pandemic after it closed its borders.
This is on top of the international sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.
The UN estimates 40 percent of the country's population face food shortages.