President Xi Jinping of China has offered his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un assistance in fighting the spread of the coronavirus. The offer was contained in a note that was sent to Kim Jong-un as he returned to the public eye after not being seen for several weeks. Speculations regarding Kim’s condition and whereabouts started when he failed to appear during the celebration of his grandfather’s birthday, who was considered to be the country’s founder.

CNN broke the news that Kim Jong-un was dead. Then other news outlets came up with their own explanation for Kim’s absence. One version of the story claimed that he suffered from a failed surgery and was in a vegetative state and that Chinese doctors were on their way to help treat him. All of those turned out to be “fake news,” which is something not surprising for CNN these days, since Kim Jong-un made an appearance inaugurating a new factory.

Xi Jinping’s note to North Korea claimed that he was very concerned about the situation in the country and the health of its people. “China is willing to step up cooperation to contain the pandemic with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and provide assistance to the DPRK,” Xi said in the note. The offer is casting doubt now on a claim made by the North Korean government that there are no cases of coronavirus infection in the country. Experts are now wondering if the note and the offer of assistance is actually a sign that the pandemic is widespread in the country.

It is notoriously difficult to get information about what is happening inside North Korea. Ordinary citizens have no internet access. Entry into the country is very restricted and the journalists who are allowed to enter get no opportunity to gather information from sources other than those sanctioned by the government. With those restrictions, it is perfectly possible to have a lot of infections inside North Korea without the rest of the world being able to confirm it.