Daily fever numbers topped 100,000 for the first time in three days amid reports that movement restrictions in Pyongyang may have been eased.
North Korea reported a slight increase in suspected COVID-19 cases on Monday, following media reports that movement restrictions imposed in the capital Pyongyang may have been lifted.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said 100,710 people developed fever symptoms in the 24 hours to 6 p.m. Sunday.
It was the first time in three days that suspected COVID-19 infections in North Korea had rebounded above 100,000 and brought the total number of cases reported since the end of April to more than 3.55 million.
The country has reported 89,500 cases of fever in the past 24 hours.
The official death toll remains at 70.
North Korea is fighting Unprecedented wave of COVID-19 statement A state of emergency was declared this month and a nationwide lockdown was imposed, worry About the lack of vaccines, medical supplies and food shortages.
Since the outbreak of Omicron on May 12, the country has only released the number of patients with fever symptoms each day, but not the number of COVID-19 patients, apparently due to a lack of test kits to confirm a large number of coronavirus cases.
The number of daily fevers peaked at more than 392,000 on May 15 and has been trending downward ever since.
Kyodo Corporation of Japan, quote Movement restrictions were lifted in the North Korean capital on Sunday, a source in Beijing said on condition of anonymity, while South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the lockdown had been “partially eased”.
But a spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said the report could not be confirmed because North Korea’s state media had not announced the decision.
Reports of the easing of restrictions came shortly after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un chaired a Politburo meeting to discuss revising the restrictions.
According to KCNA, he assessed that the situation of the country’s first COVID-19 outbreak was “improving”.
“With the current stable anti-epidemic situation, the Politburo has studied the issue of effective and rapid coordination and implementation of anti-epidemic regulations and guidelines,” it added.
Many outside experts say North Korea is underestimating its death rate to prevent any political damage to Kim Jong-un at home.
They say North Korea deserves more deaths because its 26 million people are largely unvaccinated against COVID-19 and lack the capacity to treat severely ill patients. Others suspect North Korea may have exaggerated its early fever cases in an attempt to tighten internal controls over its population.
Yang Un-chul, an analyst at South Korea’s Sejong Institute, told the Associated Press news agency that North Korea’s recently raised restrictions must have hit its coal, agriculture and other labor-intensive industrial sectors hard.
But he said those difficulties were unlikely to rise to the point of threatening Kim’s rise to power, as the COVID-19 outbreak and tightened restrictions gave him an opportunity to tighten his grip on the population.