6 dead due to suspected Covid-19 as explosive fever grips North Korea

Seoul, May 13 (EFE).- At least six people have died due to suspected Covid-19 in North Korea amid an explosive outbreak of a mysterious fever, the state-run Korea Central News Agency said on Friday.

The news agency did not say specifically that the six deaths were due to Covid-19 but noted that “one of them tested positive for the Omicron,” the highly-infectious variant of the coronavirus.

“A fever whose cause couldn’t be identified explosively spread nationwide from late April and more than 350 000 people got fever in a short span of time and at least 162,200 out of them were healed completely,” KCNA said.

It said that some 18,000 persons caught the fever on Thursday.

As of now, up to 187,800 people are in isolation and are receiving treatment.

“Six persons died,” said the state-run media outlet.

It came a day after the North Korean regime confirmed the first contagion of the Covid-19 and declared a state of “maximum emergency” in a country without a vaccination plan and had not reported a single inoculation to the World Health Organization.

Authorities detected samples of people tested Sunday in Pyongyang who had a fever consistent with the highly-transmissible variant of the virus, triggering a “grave situation such as the inroads of stealth Omicron variant into the country amid the ever-worsening worldwide public health crisis.”

The hermit kingdom had had not confirmed a single positive coronavirus case until Thursday.

The announcement came after various foreign media, citing local sources, stated that confinement had been decreed Monday in the North Korean capital.

KCNA said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited the emergency epidemic prevention headquarters Thursday to examine preventive measures in coping “with the prevailing epidemic prevention crisis” and learn about the nationwide spread of Covid-19.”

Kim adopted a resolution to implement the “maximum emergency” in the country, closed since 2020, to prevent the virus from entering.

“The politburo criticized the carelessness, laxity, irresponsibility and incompetence of those responsible for the quarantine system, who have failed to respond correctly to the growing volume of virus mutation infections worldwide, including in areas surrounding our country,” KCNA said.

North Korea has maintained a strict plan that includes preventing anyone from entering the country from abroad, reinforcing border fences, shooting anyone who approaches the border, and disinfecting imports it gets from China.

The regime has refused to accept two shipments of the AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines under the WHO’s COVAX program.

North Korea and Eritrea are the only two countries that have not reported a single inoculation to the global health agency.

The lack of immunization and the strict controls the regime activates in cases of health emergencies have triggered concerns of humanitarian organizations.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a news conference that the US currently had no plans to deliver vaccines to North Korea.

Psaki insisted that Pyongyang, which hours after announcing its first Covid-19 cases on Thursday, launched short-range missiles, appears to be preparing for a nuclear test – the first since 2017 – this month to coincide with the visit of the US President Joe Biden to Seoul on May 20. EFE


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