The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday said the agency has not received any reports of measles outbreaks in North Korea, despite a recent media report saying the disease had started spreading inside the country.
North Korea’s government and the World Health Organization have advised UNICEF "that there are no reported outbreaks of measles," Christopher de Bono, the organization’s regional spokesman in East Asia and the Pacific, told VOA in a phone interview.
Last week, the Voice of Russia / Sputnik International reported that measles broke out in the communist country and that authorities were taking steps to curb the disease’s spread. The report said the North Korean government was imposing a travel quarantine.
The UNICEF official said the agency regularly provides North Korea with vaccines for prevention. Starting in April, the agency plans to provide vaccines for the second quarter of the year.
"We undertake regular vaccination. In 2014, UNICEF provided measles vaccines four times," de Bono said.
The latest measles outbreak in North Korea occurred last July, when UNICEF said the North Korean government reported several cases.
In November 2006, measles infected about 3,000 people and caused at least several deaths. In response, UNICEF and the WHO vaccinated about 16 million people.
UNICEF said it has been assisting the country’s efforts to fight the disease since 1997 by providing vaccines, vaccination devices and supporting equipment.