21 new deaths from “fever” in the midst of the Covid epidemic in North Korea

Some 174,440 new cases of fever were recorded on Friday, including 21 leading to death, the official agency said, without specifying how many people died from the coronavirus.

“The total number of patients in the country is 524,440, of which 234,630 are completely cured (…) and the number of deaths to date is 27”, detailed KCNA.

According to several experts, these figures could underestimate the extent of the spread of the virus, the country not having the capacity to massively test its population.

On Thursday, this reclusive country had reported its first cases of coronavirus, declaring to switch to a regime of “maximum emergency prevention of epidemics” – which involves containment measures – after people had tested positive for the sub- Omicron BA.2 variant. He also announced his first death.

North Korea, which was one of the first countries in the world to close its borders in January 2020 after the virus emerged in neighboring China, has long boasted of its ability to keep the virus at bay. It had not previously reported any confirmed cases of Covid-19 to the WHO.

The official press declared that these first deaths were “due to negligence, in particular an overdose of drugs, due to ignorance of scientific treatment methods”.

Crumbling healthcare system

Leader Kim Jong Un appeared on television for the first time wearing a mask, after chairing an emergency politburo meeting on the epidemic situation on Thursday. He then ordered containment measures to try to stop the spread of the virus.

“This is the most important challenge and the most important task that our party must face to quickly reverse this health crisis situation,” he said according to the state agency.

At a meeting on Saturday, the North Korean leader promised “rapid distribution of emergency medicine” and said he wanted to introduce “treatment methods for patients, including those with special constitutions”, KCNA reported. .

Kim Jong Un said he was “convinced” that he could “defeat this malicious infectious disease in the shortest possible time”, the report added.

But the country’s health system – one of the worst in the world – is in shambles and lacks essential drugs and equipment, experts warn.

Mr. Kim announced that he would adopt the Chinese model of fighting the coronavirus.

“We should learn from the successful experiences and achievements of the Chinese Communist Party and its people in preventing the virus,” he said.

China, the world’s only major economy to maintain a zero Covid policy, however, is grappling with multiple outbreaks of Omicron despite strict lockdowns and massive testing across the country.

Another major challenge for North Korea: none of the 25 million inhabitants are vaccinated against the coronavirus, Pyongyang having rejected vaccination offers from the WHO, China and Russia.

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