North Korea reports first Covid-19 death due to Omicron mutation

North Korea said on Friday that six people had died and 350,000 had been treated for an “unknown fever” since April comfirmed The first occurrence of the coronavirus in its territory.

KCNA reported that 18,000 people were confirmed to have “fever of undetermined cause” on Thursday, and 187,800 of them were in quarantine.

One of the dead was infected with Covid-19, authorities said, adding that the person had the highly contagious virus BA.2 Omicron coronavirus subvariant.

“An unexplained fever broke out across the country from late April, and more than 350,000 people had a fever in a short period of time,” KCNA said.

North Korea is one of only two countries in the world that has yet to launch a vaccination program.

On Thursday, state media broadcast footage of Kim wearing a surgical mask presiding over a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party Politburo, during which he ordered “all cities and counties across the country to completely seal off their areas” to “completely stop the spread of the malicious virus” “.

“Stopping the spread of the virus is a top priority by actively sealing off areas and responsibly isolating and treating people with fever,” Kim Jong-un added during a visit to North Korea’s National Emergency Epidemic Prevention Command.

Experts have raised concerns about North Korea’s 25 million unvaccinated and malnourished people.

“In view of What we saw in Hong Kong earlier this yearcombined with what we know about the poor respiratory health and malnutrition of the vast majority of North Koreans, not to mention the country’s dire public health infrastructure, it is reasonable to assume the worst-case scenario would be catastrophic,” said Christopher Green, senior adviser to the International Crisis Group think tank.

Green added that the fact that North Korea’s population is relatively young may mitigate that effect.

“Most North Koreans are chronically malnourished and unvaccinated, the country has virtually no medicines, and the health infrastructure cannot cope with the epidemic,” said Lina Yoon, a senior Korea researcher at Human Rights Watch.

South Korea has long offered to provide humanitarian aid, including a vaccine, but its proposals have been rejected by the Kim regime.

After the Covid-19 case was revealed, North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of ​​Japan, known in South Korea as the East China Sea. It was the country’s 15th missile test this year and the first since South Korean President Yoon Sek-yeol was inaugurated on Tuesday.

“The missile test was designed to demonstrate business as usual and to ensure that other countries keep their distance from North Korea as it responds to a crisis,” Green said. “The military’s job is to signal readiness and ensure that North Korea’s enemies don’t try to take advantage of their temporary weakness.”

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