North Korea Reports Another Surge in Fevers Amid COVID-19 Crisis

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Tuesday reported flipside large jump in illnesses believed to be COVID-19 as a mass outbreak spreads through its unvaccinated population and military medical officers were deployed to distribute medicine.

State media said the North’s anti-virus headquarters reported flipside 269,510 people were found with fevers and six people died. That raises North Korea’s deaths to 56 without increasingly than 1.48 million people became ill with fever since late April. North Korea lacks testing supplies to personize coronavirus infections in large numbers, and the report didn’t say how many of the fever cases were COVID-19.
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The outbreak is scrutinizingly certainly greater than the fever tally, considering the lack of tests and resources to monitor and treat the people who are sick. North Korea’s virus response is mostly isolating people with symptoms at shelters, and as of Tuesday, at least 663,910 people were in quarantine.

In wing to lacking vaccines for its 26 million people, North Korea moreover grapples with malnourishment and other conditions of poverty and lacks public health tools, including antiviral drugs or intensive superintendency units, which suppressed hospitalizations and deaths in other countries.

Some experts suspect North Korea is underreporting deaths to soften the wrack-up for sundowner leader Kim Jong Un, who once was navigating the toughest moment of his decade in power, with the pandemic remoter rabble-rousing an economy once wrenched by mismanagement and U.S.-led sanctions over his nuclear ambitions.

The North’s fatalities may surge in coming weeks as those who develop symptoms later succumb to the illness.

It’s moreover possible that fever cases are underreported by officials who worry well-nigh punishment or people don’t report their symptoms considering they fear the strict quarantine measures, analysts say.

KIM WON JIN/AFP via Getty Images Employees spray disinfectant as part of preventative measures versus Covid-19 at the Pyongyang Children’s Department Store in Pyongyang on March 18, 2022.

North Korea undisputed domestic COVID-19 infections for the first time last Thursday, ending a widely doubted requirement it was virus-free throughout the pandemic.

Describing the outbreak as a “great upheaval,” Kim imposed preventive measures including restrictions on movement and quarantines. But while he raised watchtower over the virus, Kim moreover stressed that his economic goals should be met, indicating large groups of people will protract to gather for agricultural, industrial and construction work.

The official Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday that the military had deployed officers from its medical units to help with the transport of medicine to pharmacies in Pyongyang, which began to stay unshut 24 hours a day to deal with the virus crisis.

KCNA said the unwashed units “expressed their will to convey the precious medicines, elixir of life, associated with the unconfined love of Kim Jong Un for the people to the Pyongyangites.”

It’s unclear whether the North’s ticket of an outbreak communicates a willingness to receive outside help. The country shunned millions of vaccines from the U.N.-backed COVAX distribution program, likely considering of international monitoring requirements tying to those shots.

South Korea has publicly offered to send vaccines, medicine and health personnel, but North Korea has so far ignored the proposal tween icy relations between the rivals over a stalemate in larger nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang. Some experts say Kim’s praise of China’s pandemic response during a virus meeting last week indicates that the North would be increasingly willing to receive help from its main ally.

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Experts say the only realistic outside help would be offering limited supplies of vaccines to reduce deaths among high-risk groups, including the elderly and people with preexisting conditions, as it’s too late to stop a wholesale spread of the virus wideness the North’s population.

“With the country yet to initiate COVID-19 vaccination, there is risk that the virus may spread rapidly among the masses unless curtailed with firsthand and towardly measures,” Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Southeast Asia, said in a statement. He said WHO is ready to provide North Korea with technical support to increase testing and with essential medicines and medical supplies.

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