North Korea reports fever spike as military ramps up COVID response | Coronavirus pandemic news

North Korea has reported another sharp rise in the disease believed to be COVID-19, as the government mobilized a “strong force” of soldiers to distribute medicines and deployed thousands of health workers to help track new infections.

Another 269,510 people had a fever and six died, North Korea’s anti-virus headquarters said on Tuesday, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

That brings the total number of North Koreans who have fallen ill with a fever since late April to 1,483,060 and the death toll to 56.

North Korea, which comfirmed The first outbreak of the coronavirus last week, a lack of testing supplies to confirm a large number of coronavirus infections, and the report did not say how many fever cases were COVID-19.

Given the lack of testing and resources to monitor and treat the sick, the outbreak is almost certain to outnumber the feverish. North Korea’s virus response has been largely quarantining people with symptoms in shelters, with at least 663,910 people in quarantine as of Tuesday.

In addition to a lack of vaccines for 26 million people, North Korea faces malnutrition and other conditions of poverty, and a lack of public health tools such as antiviral drugs or intensive care units, which has suppressed hospitalizations and deaths in other countries.

Deaths in the North could surge in the coming weeks as those who developed symptoms later died of the disease.

KCNA said on Tuesday that a “strong force” of military medical teams had been deployed to improve the supply of medicines in Pyongyang, the capital, the epicenter of the outbreak. Order Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

It said the team’s mission was to “defuse the public health crisis in Pyongyang”.

However, the type of medication administered to patients is unclear.

‘Intensive medical examination’

In a separate release, KCNA said some senior members of the ruling Workers’ Party’s powerful Politburo visited pharmacies and drug management offices to check supply and demand after Kim criticized poor distribution of medicines.

“They called for the establishment of a stricter order for the storage and handling of medical supplies, adhering to the principle of prioritizing the supply of people’s needs and convenience,” KCNA said.

Tracking has also been ramped up, with about 11,000 health officials, teachers and medical students participating in an “intensive medical examination of all residents” across the country to locate and treat those with fever.

Despite this, various sectors of the national economy are maintaining production and construction while taking thorough anti-virus measures, KCNA added. King has ordered limited activity allowed in each city and county.

South Korea has publicly offered to provide vaccines, medicines and health personnel, but North Korea has so far ignored the offer amid icy relations between Washington and Pyongyang over a stalemate in larger nuclear talks.

Kim’s praise for China’s handling of the outbreak at a virus conference last week suggested North Korea would be more willing to get help from its key ally, some experts said.

In this undated photo released on May 17, 2022, North Korean Prime Minister Kim Deok-hoon inspects a pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Pyongyang, North Korea [KCNA via Reuters]

Experts say the only realistic outside help will be a limited supply of a vaccine to reduce deaths in high-risk groups, including the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, because it is too late to stop the virus from spreading widely in North Korea. population.

“As the country has yet to initiate a COVID-19 vaccination, the virus is likely to spread rapidly among the population unless appropriate measures are taken to contain it immediately,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, said in a statement.

Shee said the WHO is ready to provide North Korea with technical support to increase testing and provide essential medicines and medical supplies.

The United States also said it was concerned about the potential impact of the outbreak on North Koreans and supported vaccine aid to the country.

“To this end, we strongly support and encourage U.S. and international aid and health organizations’ efforts to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19 … and provide other forms of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations in the country,” said a State Department spokesman.

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