North Korea reports 6 deaths after admitting to COVID-19 outbreak

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said on Friday that six people had died and nearly 190,000 were in quarantine after a fever spread rapidly across the country in recent weeks, the first time North Korea acknowledged a COVID-19 outbreak in a largely unvaccinated population. Day 19.

North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said on Friday that more than 350,000 people had been treated for a fever that “exploded” across the country since late April, and 162,200 had recovered. It said 18,000 people had developed a fever on Thursday alone and 187,800 were currently in isolation for treatment.

It is unclear how many cases are COVID-19, and the country may lack testing supplies. North Korea said one of the six dead was confirmed to be infected with the omicron variant.

Failure to slow the infection could have dire consequences, experts say, as the country’s health care system is weak and most of its 26 million people are believed to be unvaccinated.

KCNA said Kim was briefed on fever during a visit to the National Emergency Epidemic Prevention Command on Thursday and criticized officials for failing to prevent “weak links in the epidemic prevention system.”

He said the spread of the fever was mainly concentrated in the capital Pyongyang and nearby areas, and stressed the importance of isolating all work, production and residential units from each other, while providing residents with everything to curb the spread of the “malicious virus”.

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