COVID is in ‘great turmoil,’ 21 deaths reported, says Kim Jong Un

On Saturday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the spread of COVID-19 had thrown his country into grave difficulty and called for an all-out campaign to end the outbreak, as 21 people died every day from the virus.

North Korea acknowledged a COVID outbreak for the first time this week, ordering a statewide curfew. However, the remote country’s inadequate healthcare system showed no signs of a thorough testing or treatment effort.

According to state news agency KCNA, Kim told an emergency meeting of the governing Workers’ Party, ‘The spread of the malignant illness is a huge turmoil that has fallen on our country since its inception.’

‘However, if we stay focused on implementing pandemic policy and retain strong organisational authority and control based on single-minded unity of the party and people, we can more than overcome the crisis.’

Given North Korea’s restricted testing capabilities, scientists believe the statistics reflect a small fraction of total cases, but they could result in thousands of deaths in one of only two countries without a vaccine campaign.

The outbreak might exacerbate an already acute food crisis, as the lockdown thwarts anti-drought measures and labour mobilisation.

Since a fever of unknown sources was detected in late April, the Workers’ Party meeting received reports of roughly 280,810 persons being treated and 27 deaths, according to KCNA.

The additional deaths were not linked to COVID, according to state media. According to KCNA, one death has been confirmed as a result of the Omicron variety.

According to KCNA, 524,440 persons have displayed indications of fever since late April, with 174,440 new cases reported on Friday. KCNA has not said how many persons have been tested for COVID or confirmed the overall number of cases.

According to Harvard Medical School’s Kee Park, who has worked on healthcare programmes in North Korea, North Korea has been testing roughly 1,400 people every week, far insufficient to survey the hundreds of thousands of people who have symptoms.


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