by Hyung-jin Kim | The Associated Press
Seoul, South Korea – North Korea has confirmed 15 more deaths and hundreds of thousands of additional patients with flu-like symptoms as it tries to suppress the country’s first COVID-19 outbreak, more than a million health and mobilizes other workers, state media reported Sunday.
After maintaining a widely disputed claim of being coronavirus-free for more than two years, North Korea announced on Thursday that it had found its first COVID-19 patient since the pandemic began.
It has since said the fever has spread “explosively” across the country since late April, but it has not disclosed how many COVID-19 cases have been found in it. Some experts say North Korea lacks the diagnostic kits needed to test large numbers of suspected COVID-19 patients.
The additional deaths reported on Sunday took the fever-related deaths in the country to 42. The official Korean Central News Agency also reported that another 296,180 people with flu symptoms had risen, bringing the total to 820,620.
The outbreak has raised concerns about a humanitarian crisis in North Korea as most of the country’s 26 million people are believed to be unvaccinated against the coronavirus and its public health care system has been in shambles for decades. Some experts say North Korea could face heavy casualties if it does not receive outbound shipments of vaccines, medicines and other medical supplies immediately.
Since Thursday, North Korea has imposed a nationwide lockdown to fight the virus. Observers say it could put further pressure on the country’s fragile economy, which has been sharply reduced in recent years by pandemic-related border closures, the United Nations over its nuclear program and its own mismanagement. Punishing economic sanctions.
During a meeting on the outbreak on Saturday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un described the outbreak as a historically “great turmoil” and called for unity between the government and the people to stabilize the outbreak as quickly as possible. called upon.
The KCNA on Sunday said that more than 13 lakh people are engaged in the work of testing and treatment of sick people and spreading awareness among people about cleanliness. It said all those with fever and others with unusual symptoms are being kept in quarantine and being treated.
Of those with symptoms, 496,030 have been cured, while 324,4550 were still receiving treatment as of Saturday, KCNA reported, citing the country’s Center for Emergency Epidemic Prevention.
State media reports said Kim and other senior North Korean officials are donating their personal reserve of medicines to support the country’s anti-epidemic fight. During Saturday’s meeting, Kim expressed optimism that the country could bring the outbreak under control, adding that most transmissions are occurring within communities that are isolated from each other and not from region to region. are spreading.