Seoul, South Korea ( Associated Press) – North Korea said on Friday that an explosive spread of the fever spread across the country, a day after it acknowledged a COVID-19 outbreak in a largely unvaccinated population. In between, six people died and hundreds of thousands fell ill. For the first time since the pandemic began.
The exact scale of the coronavirus outbreak in North Korea is still unclear, as North Korea – which lacks COVID-19 diagnostic kits and other medical equipment – said it had not found why the fever occurred. But some experts say the outbreak could have major consequences because North Korea’s health care infrastructure is broken and many of the North’s illiterate populations are malnourished.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said on Friday that more than 350,000 people have been treated for the “explosive” fever that has spread across the country since late April, and 162,200 of them have been cured. It said that symptoms of fever were found in 18,000 people on Thursday alone.
It was not immediately clear how many cases were COVID-19 as the KCNA said the cause of the fever could not be identified.
KCNA said one in six people who died were confirmed to have been infected with the Omicron variant. At present, it has been said that 187,800 people are being isolated for treatment in North Korea.
North Korea imposed a nationwide lockdown on Thursday to control its first approved COVID-19 outbreak after more than two years maintaining a widely dubious claim that has spread almost everywhere in the world. Completely stopped the spread of the virus.
State media said tests of virus samples collected on Sunday from an unspecified number of people with fever in the capital Pyongyang confirmed they were infected with the Omicron variant. The reports did not specify the number of cases.
Experts say the failure to slow coronavirus infections could have dire consequences as the country’s health care system is poor and its 26 million people are believed to be mostly illiterate.
KCNA said Kim was briefed about the fever during his visit to the state’s emergency epidemic prevention headquarters on Thursday and criticized officials for failing to contain “a weak point in the epidemic prevention system”.
He said the spread of the fever is concentrated in the capital Pyongyang and surrounding areas and underscored the importance of isolating all work, production and residential units from each other while providing residents with every facility to prevent the spread of the “malicious virus”. has done.
KCNA quoted Kim as saying, “The most important challenge and supreme task before our party is to reverse the situation of an urgent public health crisis as quickly as possible, restore the stability of epidemic prevention and the health and well-being of our people.” protect the.”
Describing its anti-coronavirus campaign as a “national survival”, North Korea has severely restricted cross-border traffic and trade for the past two years and is even believed to have suspended troops. was ordered to shoot at sight any trespasser crossing its borders.
Decades of mismanagement and border closures to an economy already damaged by US-led sanctions on its nuclear weapons and missile program pushed Kim into perhaps the toughest moment of his regime since taking power in 2011.
North Korea temporarily reopened rail freight traffic between its border city of Sinuiju and China’s Dandong in January, but China last month announced a halt to trade as it struggled to fight the spread of COVID-19 in its border areas. is related.
Hours after North Korea confirmed the outbreak on Thursday, North Korea launched three short-range ballistic missiles toward the sea, South Korea and Japan said, after leader Kim Jong Un publicly acknowledged the virus outbreak. The aftermath was probably a show of strength.
It was North Korea’s 16th missile launch this year as it was aimed at forcing the United States to acknowledge North Korea as a nuclear power and negotiate sanctions relief and other concessions from a position of strength. stood at.