North Korea has reported further fever as Kim claims progress of the virus

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SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea said Saturday it has found about 220,000 people with fever symptoms, even as leader Kim Jong Un claims progress in slowing the massive undiagnosed spread of COVID-19 across a 26 million immunized population.

The outbreak has raised concerns about serious tragedies in poor, isolated countries with the world’s worst healthcare systems and high tolerance for civilian suffering. Experts say North Korea is almost certainly reducing the true scale of the viral outbreak, including a strangely small number of deaths, as it navigates the most difficult moment of its decade-long rule to soften the political blow on Kim.

Around 219,030 North Koreans contracted the fever between 6pm and 24pm on Friday, a fifth daily increase of about 200,000, according to the North Korean Central News Agency, which blamed the government’s anti-virus headquarters.

North Korea says more than 2.4 million people have fallen ill and 66 have died since an unknown fever began to spread rapidly in late April, although the country has only been able to identify a few as COVID-19. Test supplies. After maintaining a dubious claim for 2 1/2 years that it had completely blocked the virus from entering its territory, North admitted to the Omicron infection last week.

Amidst the shortage of public health equipment, the North has mobilized more than one million health workers to locate people with fever and isolate them in isolation facilities. Kim imposed strict restrictions on travel between the city and the city, and gathered thousands of troops to help transport drugs to a pharmacy in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, which was the epicenter of the outbreak.

During a ruling party politburo meeting on Saturday, Kim stressed that the country has begun to control the outbreak and called for tighter surveillance to maintain a “positive trend” in anti-virus propaganda, KCNA reported. But Kim also appears to be hinting at easing his epidemic response to alleviate his economic woes, instructing officials to actively revise the country’s immune system and come up with various plans to revive the national economy based on the changed virus situation.

KCNA said members of the Politburo debated ways to “more efficiently engineer and implement” the government’s anti-virus policy in light of how the virus is “steadily controlling and reducing” its spread, but did not specify what was discussed in the report.

Even while imposing what the state media described as the “highest” preventive measure, Kim insisted that his economic goals should still be met, and state media described a large group of workers gathering on farms, mining facilities, power stations and construction sites. Being.

Experts say Kim will not be able to bring the country into a state of stagnation that would push it further into a fragile economy, crushed by decades of mismanagement, cripple his nuclear weapons ambitions and cripple US-led sanctions to close the epidemic. State media has portrayed an urgent push for an agricultural campaign aimed at protecting crops in the midst of an ongoing drought. Rules.

The virus did not deter Kim from holding and attending important public events for her leadership. State media showed him weeping during Saturday’s state funeral for North Korea’s top military official, Hyun Chol-hee, who is believed to have been involved in arranging Kim as a future leader during the reign of his father, Kim Jong Il.

North Korea’s optimistic description of its epidemic response is in stark contrast to outside concerns about the dire consequences, including the deaths that could reach thousands. Concerns have been raised that the country is apparently trying to manage the crisis in isolation, ignoring aid from South Korea and the United States. The South Korean government said it could not confirm this week that North Korea had flown in to bring back emergency supplies from allied China.

In recent years, millions of vaccine doses given by the North UN-backed COVAX distribution program have been avoided, probably due to the need for international monitoring attached to those shots. The WHO and UNICEF say North Korea has not yet responded to their request for virus data or help, and some experts say North Korea may be willing to take a certain level of immunity to gain immunity through infection.

It is possible that North Korea has at least some cases of fever from non-COVID-19 illnesses such as waterborne diseases, which according to South Korean intelligence officials have become a growing problem for the North in recent years amid a shortage of medical supplies.

But experts say the explosive speed of the spread and North Korea’s lack of a test system to detect large numbers of virus carriers in the early stages of the infection indicate that the country’s Kovid-19 crisis is worse than the number represented by its fever. They say the actual virus death in the country will be significantly larger than the official number and the death toll will rise further in the coming weeks considering the gap between infection and death.

North Korea’s acknowledgment of a Kovid-19 outbreak comes amid a provocative race for weapons tests, including the country’s first demonstration of an intercontinental ballistic missile since March 2017, as Kim pushes the United States into a narrow-minded approach to push for the idea. The North is discussing economic and security concessions as a nuclear power and from a position of power.

The deteriorating economy and the challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak are unlikely to slow its pressure campaign. U.S. and South Korean officials say the North is likely to conduct another ballistic missile test or nuclear explosive test during or near President Joe Biden’s visit to South Korea and Japan this week.

Nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled for more than three years due to disagreements over how to ease US-led crippling sanctions in exchange for North’s disarmament measures.

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