North Korea reports 15 more suspected COVID-19 deaths


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea has confirmed 15 additional deaths and hundreds of thousands of additional fever cases as North Korea mobilizes more than 1 million health and other workers to contain the country’s first COVID-19 outbreak, state media reports . Sunday.

North Korea announced Thursday that it had found its first COVID-19 case since the COVID-19 pandemic, after claiming that it had not been infected with the virus for over two years.

He later said that the fever had “exploded” across the country since late April, but did not disclose exactly how many cases of COVID-19 had been found. Some experts say that North Korea lacks the diagnostic kits it needs to test a large number of suspected COVID-19 patients.

The additional deaths reported on Sunday brought the number of reported fever-related deaths in the country to 42. The state-run KCNA reported that another 296,180 cases of fever were counted, bringing the reported total to 820,620.

The outbreak has sparked concerns about a humanitarian crisis in North Korea. That’s because most of North Korea’s 26 million people are believed to be unvaccinated against the coronavirus, and the public health system has been in shambles for decades. Some experts say that if North Korea does not immediately get vaccines, medicines and other medical supplies from the outside, it could lead to devastating deaths.

North Korea imposed a nationwide lockdown starting Thursday to combat the virus. Observers say this could further strain the fragile economy of a country that has struggled in recent years due to sharp declines in foreign trade caused by pandemic-related border closures, which could punish UN economic sanctions for its nuclear program and poor self-management. say you can

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at an outbreak meeting on Saturday described the outbreak as historically “catastrophic” and called for unity between the government and the people to stabilize the outbreak as soon as possible.

KCNA said on Sunday that more than 1.3 million people took part in projects to screen and treat sick people and raise public awareness of hygiene. Both those with a fever and those with abnormal symptoms are being treated in isolation, he said. KCNA said the high pandemic response includes installing more quarantine facilities, transporting emergency medical supplies to hospitals, and bolstering disinfection efforts.

The Chosun Central News Agency reported that from the morning of May 12, all provinces, cities, and counties across the country have been completely blocked, work units, production units, and residential units have been shut down, and a strict and intensive investigation has been conducted on all citizens. .

Of those with symptoms, 496,030 have recovered and 324,4550 are still receiving treatment as of Saturday, the KCNA said, citing the National Center for Emergency Infectious Diseases Prevention.

According to state media reports, Kim and other senior North Korean officials are donating personal stockpiles to aid in the fight against the epidemic. At a meeting on Saturday, Chairman Kim expressed optimism that the country will be able to control the outbreak, saying that most transmission is occurring within communities isolated from each other rather than spreading from region to region.

Despite the outbreak, Kim has ordered officials to go ahead with planned economic, construction and other national projects, a suggestion that authorities do not require people to lock themselves in their homes. Hours after acknowledging the virus outbreak on Thursday, North Korea recently fired a ballistic missile at the sea, continuing a series of weapons tests.

According to the Korean Central News Agency, Chairman Kim visited the memorial site prepared for a high-ranking public official Yang Hyeong-seop, who died the day before, with high-ranking officials on the same day to express condolences and meet the bereaved family. A separate Chosun Central News Agency reported that officials and workers in the northeast region had begun taking measures to prevent damage to crop yields and quality due to spring drought.

South Korea and China have offered to send vaccines, medicines and other aid to North Korea, but North Korea has not publicly responded to these offers. North Korea has previously rejected millions of doses of vaccine provided by the UN-sponsored COVAX distribution program amid speculation over possible adverse reactions to the vaccine or the international monitoring requirements attached to the vaccine.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that the United States supports international relief efforts but has no plans to share vaccine supplies with North Korea. The North Korean virus outbreak could still be a major topic of discussion when US President Joe Biden visits Seoul for a summit with newly inaugurated President Yoon Seok-yeol later this week.

Former National Intelligence Service Director Park Ji-won wrote on Facebook on Friday that in May 2021, then-director of the National Intelligence Service, the United States had offered to send 60 million doses of the vaccine to North Korea as humanitarian aid through Corbex. He later said the United Nations and the Vatican had also discussed shipping 60 million doses to North Korea, but that support never materialized because there was no official offer to North Korea.

President Park said he had doubts that the North would do so, but hoped the North would quickly accept Yun’s offer of assistance.

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