North Korea has confirmed 21 new deaths in a battle with Kovid-19

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SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea on Saturday reported 21 new deaths and 174,440 more people with fever symptoms as the country struggled to slow the spread of COVID-19 across its immunized population.

The number of new deaths and cases, which were up since Friday, has risen to 27 deaths and 524,440 illnesses in the rapid spread of fever since the end of April. North Korea says 243,630 people have recovered and 280,810 are in quarantine. State media did not specify how many cases of fever and death have been confirmed as COVID-19 infections.

After confirming the first COVID-19 case since the epidemic began, the country imposed what it described as the highest preventive measure on Thursday. It was held more than two years ago for the widely dubious claim of a perfect record of keeping away the virus that had spread almost everywhere in the world.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un described the outbreak as “historically disruptive” during a meeting of the ruling party’s politburo on Saturday and called for unity between the government and the people to stabilize the outbreak as soon as possible.

According to Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, during the meeting, officials mainly discussed ways to quickly deliver medical supplies from the country’s emergency stockpile. In a report to the Politburo, the North’s Emergency Epidemiological Office blamed “lack of scientific knowledge of medical procedures” for most of the deaths, including overdoses.

Kim, who said he was providing some of his personal medicines to help spread the anti-virus, expressed hope that the country could bring the outbreak under control, saying most infections occur in communities that are isolated and not spreading. Region to region.

He called on officials to learn from other nations’ successful pandemic responses, citing the example of China, the North’s main ally.

China, however, has come under pressure to change its so-called “zero-covid” strategy, which has stalled major cities as it struggles to slow down the fast-moving Omicron variant.

Since Thursday, North Korea has taken steps to limit the movement and supply of people between cities and counties, but the state media’s description shows that people are not confined to their homes.

Experts say failure to control the spread of Kovid-19 could have devastating consequences for North Korea, given the country’s fragile healthcare system and whose 26 million people are largely immunized.

Tests of virus samples collected Sunday from an undisclosed number of people with fever in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, confirmed that they had been infected with the Omicron variant, state media reported. The country has so far officially confirmed the death of one person as being associated with an Omicron infection.

Lacking vaccines, antiviral pills, intensive care units and other key health equipment to fight the virus, North Korea’s epidemic response will largely be about isolating symptomatic people in designated shelters, experts say.

North Korea does not have the technical and other resources to impose an extreme lockdown like China, which has shut down entire cities and confined residents to their homes, or is unable to do so at the risk of further pushing a fragile economy. Hong Min, an analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul.

He even called for strong preventive measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, with Kim emphasizing that the country’s economic goals must be met, which could mean large groups gathering at agricultural, industrial and construction sites.

It is unusual for an isolated North Korea to acknowledge an outbreak of any contagious disease, let alone a horrible one like Kovid-19, as it is intensely proud and sensitive to outside notions of its “socialist utopia”. Experts are mixed on whether the announcement of the outbreak in the north indicates a desire for outside help.

The country has avoided the millions of doses provided by the UN-backed COVAX distribution program, probably due to concerns about the need for international surveillance attached to those shots.

North Korea has a greater tolerance for civilian suffering than any other country, and some experts say the country may be willing to accept a certain level of immunity to gain immunity through infection rather than through vaccines and other outside help.

South Korea’s new Conservative government, led by incumbent President Eun Suu Kyi, on Tuesday offered to provide North Korea with vaccines and other medical treatment, but Seoul officials said the North had not yet made any request for help. Relations between rival Korea have worsened since 2019 after Washington and Pyongyang derailed in nuclear talks.

However, Kim’s call for his officials to learn from China’s experience indicates that the North may soon request COVID-19-related drugs and testing equipment from China, said Cheung Seong-chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Friday that Beijing was ready to offer aid to North Korea but said it had no information about any such request.

North Korea’s viral spread could accelerate after an estimated thousands of civilians and troops gathered for a massive military parade in Pyongyang on April 25, where Kim took to the stage and demonstrated the most powerful missile of his military nuclear program.

After maintaining one of the world’s toughest border closures for two years to protect its poor healthcare system, North Korea apparently reopened rail freight vehicles with China in February to ease the pressure on its economy. But China confirmed the closure of the route last month due to the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak in the border area.

Hours after the North acknowledged its first COVID-19 transmission on Thursday, the South Korean military tested three North ballistic missiles that identified what appeared to be a show of strength.

Kim has accelerated his weapons display in 2022, including the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile in almost five years. Experts say Kim’s bronchialism is forcing Washington to accept the North’s notion of a nuclear power and to negotiate the removal of US-led sanctions and other concessions from a stronger position.

South Korean and U.S. officials have also said that the North is probably preparing to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017, which they say could happen earlier this month.

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