North Korea has recorded its first COVID-19 death after the hermit country reported an “explosive” outbreak that could infect more than 350,000 people.
About 18,000 people in the East Asian country have experienced the new “Fever Cases” Thursday only. One of the six people who died as of Friday was reported to have been infected with the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron.
“A fever of which the cause cannot be identified has spread explosively across the country since late April. As many as 187,800 people have been quarantined so far,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
North Korean news media also said that more than 350,000 people have developed symptoms and that about 162,200 people have been treated so far.
The country has called the outbreak in Pyongyang a “major national emergency” but has yet to confirm the exact number of confirmed positive cases.first ever news COVID-19 deaths The news came after the government imposed “maximum emergency measures” including a nationwide lockdown to contain the outbreak in the capital.
“Reversing the current public health crisis as soon as possible is the most important challenge and the highest task facing our party. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said on Friday after visiting the North’s Emergency Epidemic Prevention Command to learn about the situation.
Some experts say a massive outbreak could quickly overwhelm North Korea’s poorly equipped health facilities. They also point out that only a handful of the country’s 25.8 million citizens have been vaccinated.
“Most North Koreans are chronically malnourished and unvaccinated, the country has virtually no medicines, and the health infrastructure is unable to cope with the epidemic,” said Lena Yoon, senior Korea researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“The international community should provide medicines to treat symptoms associated with COVID-19, antiviral medicines for COVID-19, and provide vaccines and all necessary vaccine storage infrastructure, including refrigerators, generators and gasoline,” she added.
After news broke, countries like South Korea shared their plans provide help Help North Korea fight its first outbreak since the pandemic began in 2020. On Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States does not currently plan to ship a COVID-19 vaccine to North Korea.
The hermit nation has reportedly rejected vaccines from China, Russia and the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative several times in the past because it requires external monitoring.
The country has publicly acknowledged that the outbreak could mean a “public health situation” [in North Korea] It has to be serious,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. Associated Press.
“This does not mean North Korea will suddenly open up to humanitarian aid and take a more conciliatory line towards Washington and Seoul,” he added.
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