North Korea’s state media acknowledged Friday in an unusual way that the coronavirus has been spreading “explosive” in North Korea since April, killing at least six people. A day earlier, dictator Kim Jong Un donned a mask and warned that a variant had entered the country.
KCNA said 350,000 people had developed fever in recent weeks, including 18,000 on Thursday alone.
Mr King ordered a broad lockdown on Thursday after first admitting the existence of COVID-19. Until then, the isolated country claims it has the virus out of the way.
North Korea is unprepared to deal with COVID-19. Few people in the country are vaccinated, and its health system could be overrun.
The situation has sparked a debate over whether North Korea will seek or accept outside help after rejecting aid through the pandemic.
South Korea could see it as an opportunity to re-engage with Pyongyang, although North Korea’s recent ballistic missile test has made negotiations difficult.
The U.S. has no plans to share vaccines with North Korea after repeatedly rejecting vaccinations from COVAX, the global alliance for vaccine sharing.
“We do continue to support international efforts aimed at delivering critical humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable North Koreans,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. [North Korea] Continue to exploit your own citizens by not accepting this aid. As you know, it’s not just a vaccine – it’s also a range of humanitarian aid that can greatly help the people of this country. Instead, they diverted resources to build their illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programs. “