Update 1-N. Korea reports ‘positive trend’ in COVID fight as fever cases drop

(new, added details and background; added attribution)

Josh Smith

SEOUL, May 22 (Reuters) – North Korea’s daily “fever” cases fell below 200,000 for the first time in nearly 10 days, state media said on Sunday, as it reported measures to contain the country’s first acknowledged coronavirus ‘Positive trend’ after virus-19 outbreak.

The COVID wave announced on May 12 raised concerns about a lack of vaccines, inadequate medical infrastructure and a potential food crisis for the country’s 25 million people. It has turned away most outside help, closed its borders, and has not allowed independent confirmation of official data.

In an apparent lack of testing supplies, North Korea has yet to confirm the total number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Instead, health authorities report people with fever symptoms, making it difficult to assess the size of the COVID wave, experts say.

More than 186,090 other people developed fever symptoms and one person died, KCNA reported on Sunday. Of the 2.6 million cumulative cases, more than 2 million have recovered, KCNA said. The official death toll is 67.

“The current situation of the spread of the epidemic in North Korea has shown a positive trend from an initial rapid increase to a decline after stable control and management, and the number of people recovering across the country is increasing day by day,” the official name of North Korea said.

Last year, North Korea said it had developed its own polymerase chain reaction (PCR) equipment to test for the coronavirus. The KNCA reported that the country is “accelerating the development of new detection and antibody detection reagents for early detection of outbreaks”.

Authorities have distributed food and medicine across the country and deployed military medics to help distribute medicines and conduct inspections.

The report added that more than 1 million healthcare workers, including medical students and teachers, had been mobilized for health checks to “completely interrupt and eradicate the source of transmission”. (Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by David Gregorio)

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