North Korea reported its first death from the COVID-19 virus, after 350,000 people had fever

SEOUL (Reuters) – At least one person confirmed to have COVID-19 has died in North Korea and hundreds of thousands have developed symptoms of fever, state media said on Friday, providing hints about the potentially dangerous scale of the spread of the country’s first confirmed case. epidemic.

About 187,800 people are being treated in isolation after “a fever of unknown origin has explodedly spread across the country” since late April, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

Nearly 350,000 people showed signs of that fever, of whom 18,000 reported such symptoms on Thursday, the agency said. About 162,200 people have been treated, but she did not say how many have tested positive for COVID-19.

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And the Korean Central News Agency said that at least six people who showed symptoms of fever died, and one of them was confirmed to be infected with the Omicron type of virus.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited the anti-virus command center on Thursday to check the situation and responses after declaring the “most severe emergency” and ordering a nationwide lockdown on Thursday. Read more

North Korea said the outbreak began in the capital, Pyongyang, in April. State media did not explain the cause of the outbreak, but the city hosted several massive public events on April 15 and 25, including a military parade and large gatherings where most people did not wear masks.

The agency said that Kim “criticized that the simultaneous spread of the fever with the metropolitan area as the center shows that there is a weakness in the epidemic prevention system that we have already established.”

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Kim said isolating and treating people with fever is a top priority, while calling for scientific treatment methods and techniques “at a lightning pace” and strengthening measures to provide medicines.

In another message, the agency said health authorities are trying to regulate testing and treatment systems and boost disinfection work.

The rapid spread of the virus highlights the potential for a major crisis in a country that lacks medical resources, has refused international assistance with vaccinations and kept its borders closed.

Analysts said the outbreak could threaten to deepen an already dire food situation in the isolated country this year, as the shutdown will hamper its “all-out battle” against drought and labor mobilization. Read more

North Korea has rejected vaccine supplies from COVAX and China, which could leave the vast majority of people in a relatively young community more vulnerable to infection.

Kwon Young-se, the new South Korean candidate for the post of Unification Minister, in charge of inter-Korean relations, said at his confirmation hearing Thursday that he is willing to push for humanitarian assistance to North Korea, including coronavirus treatment, injections and other means. medical. supplies.

A spokesman for the US State Department said it has no plans to send vaccines to North Korea but supports international efforts to provide assistance to people at risk there, and urged Pyongyang to facilitate this work.

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(Hyunhyun Shin and Josh Smith report). Editing by Leslie Adler, Alistair Bell and David Gregorio

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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