North Korea confirms 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19

North Korea confirms 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19
North Korea confirms 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19

We show you our most important and recent visitors news details North Korea confirms 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19 in the following article

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - SEOUL — North Korea on Saturday reported 21 new deaths and 174,440 more people with fever symptoms as the country scrambles to slow the spread of COVID-19 across its unvaccinated population.

The new deaths and cases, which were from Friday, increased total numbers to 27 deaths and 524,440 illnesses amid a rapid spread of fever since late April. North Korea said 243,630 people had recovered and 280,810 remained in quarantine. State media didn’t specify how many of the fever cases and deaths were confirmed as COVID-19 infections.

The country imposed what it described as maximum preventive measures on Thursday after confirming its first COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. It had previously held for more than two years to a widely doubted claim of a perfect record keeping out the virus that has spread to nearly every place in the world.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a ruling party Politburo meeting on Saturday described the outbreak as a historically “great upheaval” and called for unity between the government and people to stabilize the outbreak as quickly as possible.

Officials during the meeting mainly discussed ways to swiftly distribute medical supplies the country has released from its emergency reserves, Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said. In a report presented to the Politburo, the North’s emergency epidemic office blamed most of the deaths on “mistakes like overmuch taking of drugs, bereft of scientific medical treatment.”

Kim, who said he was donating some of his private medicine supplies to help the anti-virus campaign, expressed optimism that the country could bring the outbreak under control, saying most transmissions are occurring within communities that are isolated from one another and not spreading from region to region.

He called for officials to take lessons from the successful pandemic responses of other nations and picked an example in China.

China, however, has been facing pressure to change its so-called “zero-COVID” strategy that has brought major cities to a standstill as it struggles to slow the fast-moving omicron variant.

North Korea since Thursday has imposed steps aimed at restricting the movement of people and supplies between cities and counties.

Experts say a failure to control the spread of COVID-19 could have devastating consequences in North Korea, considering the country’s poor health care system and that its 26 million people are largely unvaccinated.

Tests of virus samples collected Sunday from an unspecified number of people with fevers in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, confirmed they were infected with the omicron variant, state media said. The country has so far officially confirmed one death as linked to an omicron infection.

Lacking vaccines, antiviral pills, intensive care units and other major health tools to fight the virus, North Korea’s pandemic response will be mostly about isolating people with symptoms at designated shelters, experts say.

Experts are mixed on whether the North’s announcement of the outbreak communicates a willingness to receive outside help.

The country had shunned millions of doses offered by the U.N.-backed COVAX distribution program, possibly because of concerns over international monitoring requirements attached to those shots.

North Korea has a higher tolerance for civilian suffering than most other nations and some experts say the country could be willing to accept a certain level of fatalities to gain immunity through infection, rather than receiving vaccines and other outside help.

South Korea’s new conservative government led by President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office on Tuesday, has offered to send vaccines and other medical supplies to North Korea, but Seoul officials say the North has so far made no request for help. Relations between the rival Koreas have worsened since 2019 following a derailment in nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.

However, Kim’s call for his officials to learn from China’s experience indicates that the North could soon request COVID-19-related medicine and testing equipment from China, said analyst. — Agencies


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