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N. Korea reports 6 deaths as Covid-19 spreads ‘Explosively’

SEOUL, South Korea (Transatlantic Today) — Six people have died and hundreds and thousands became ill in North Korea on Friday, a day after the country confirmed a Covid-19 epidemic in a mostly unvaccinated populace for the very first time since the epidemic began. 

The exact scope of the Covid outbreak is unknown, as North Korea, which lacks Covid-19 diagnostic tools and other medical instruments, claims it hasn’t determined why the fever occurred. However, because the national healthcare infrastructure is still shattered and most of its 26 million citizens are unvaccinated and impoverished, some experts believe the outbreak might have serious effects. 

More than 350,000 individuals have been treated for a flu that has “explosively” spread across the country since late April, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, with 162,200 of them recovering. On Thursday alone, 18,000 individuals were detected with fever symptoms, according to the report. 

Because the origin of the fever could not be determined, it was unclear how many of the cases were Covid-19. 

According to KCNA, one of the six victims who died was affected with the omicron strain. Currently, 187,800 individuals in North Korea are being segregated for treatment, according to the UN. 

After maintaining a largely disputed assertion for more than 2 years that it had totally managed to fend off the virus which has spread to almost every part of the world, North Korea instituted a statewide lockdown on Thursday to prevent its first confirmed Covid-19 outbreak. 

Tests of viral samples obtained Sunday from an unidentified number of individuals with flu symptoms in Pyongyang indicated they were infested with the omicron strain, according to state media. The number of cases was not specified in the reports. 

Kim was updated on the virus on his visit to the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters on Thursday, according to KCNA, and he criticized authorities for failing to avoid a weak spot in the epidemic prevention system. 

He stated the fever’s spread has been concentrated in Pyongyang and surrounding areas, emphasizing the significance of isolating all work, manufacturing, and residential properties from one another while giving inhabitants every convenience to prevent the “malicious virus” from spreading. 

North Korea has severely limited cross-border transportation and trade for the past 2 years, defining its anti-coronavirus program as a subject of “national existence,” and is thought to have commanded forces to shoot on sight any intruders who enter its borders. 

The border restrictions exacerbated an economy already devastated by generations of mismanagement and severe US-led sanctions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes, forcing Kim to possibly his most difficult period since taking office in 2011.

North Korea temporarily restored railroad freight business between Sinuiju and China’s Dandong in January, but China halted the trade last month as it dealt with the spread of Covid-19 in its border territories. 

North Korea fired 3 short-range missiles towards the sea hours after Kim publicly confirmed the viral breakout, Japan and South Korea reported, potentially as a show of power after Kim officially confirmed the virus outbreak. 

It was North Korea’s 16th round of missile tests this year, as it tries to force the US to recognise North Korea as a nuclear power and discuss sanctions removal and other reforms from a strong position.

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