North Korea is bordered by China and South Korea, two of the countries that saw some of the worst impacts of COVID-19 at the start of the global outbreak. The Hermit Kingdom has repeatedly said there hasn’t been a single case on its soil and that it is implementing social distancing measures.
According to the U.N.'s website, money was allocated on Feb. 27 to the WHO through the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund as part of the WHO's "early action response to global containment" of the deadly virus.
"The main objective of this project is to provide timely life-saving health assistance in priority countries in order to contain the global outbreak of the COVID-19 virus," the website listing states.
News of the allocation was first reported Wednesday by South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.
In the OCHA report "Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19," last updated on March 28, the agency said that as of March 13 the North Korean government reported to the WHO there were no detected cases.
Many health care facilities in North Korea "lack electricity, water and sanitation," especially in rural and hard-to-reach communities.
The U.N. estimates there are about 9 million people in North Korea with limited access to "essential health services," and that any increased COVID-19 screening may strain an "already overburned system."
Since North Korea closed its borders and enacted "wide quarantines and travel restrictions between cities and regions," the U.N. said, there have been delays of importing materials, a "near halt" of trading and extended quarantines of more than 25,000 people and cargo.
"Since the end of January, no supplies or programmatic aid has reached the country," the OCHA report noted. "International assistance programs, including critical health interventions, such as surgical and anesthesia care, maternal care, tuberculosis and other diseases, are facing supply shortages and risk stock-outs."
The report added that national authorities are concentrating on preventative measures, "monitoring" potentially sick people, and "increasing health and hygiene advocacy."
Last week, Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea’s ruling party, called on people to stay at least 3 feet away from others and avoid public transportation.
"We should not let children go outside, especially to public places or areas crowded with people," the Hermit Kingdom's main newspaper said in an article.
The party newspaper also discouraged eating and drinking in public places and touching anything in public places where people eat or drink.
The outlet ratcheted up the rhetoric on Tuesday, calling for "absolute obedience" for the country's coronavirus guidelines, warning of punishment.
An article contributed by Ri Kyong-chol, an associate professor at Kim Il-sung University, warned that no exceptions to COVID-19 guidelines would be tolerated, according to Yonhap.
"The emergency system has announced that punishment will follow if state guidelines are violated," he was quoted as saying.
Foreign experts have challenged the claim that there is not one single coronavirus infection on North Korean soil.
"It's impossible for North Korea not to have a single case of coronavirus," Jung H. Pak, a former CIA analyst on North Korea, previously told Fox News.
Pak, now a Brookings Institute fellow, believes that dictator Kim Jong Un is lying about the numbers to show the world he is in control and can protect his people from the deadly disease. The country has faced a decade of crippling economic and financial sanctions for human rights abuses, cyberattacks, money laundering and the fight over denuclearization.
As of Wednesday morning, there were at least 883,225 positive cases of COVID-19 and at least 44,156 deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The death toll from the virus in the U.S. has reached at least 4,081, which surpassed the reported number in China, figures that have been disputed by locals.
Fox News' Barnini Chakraborty contributed to this report.