North Korea adds nearly 300,000 infections, 15 deaths amid covid outbreak

Seoul, May 15 (EFE).- North Korea Sunday added more than 296,000 new infections and 15 deaths linked to a mysterious fever as the country remains locked down amid the Covid-19 outbreak, the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

The news agency said the new infections, recorded in the 24 hours from Friday evening, took the total number of cases to 820,620. The death toll stands at 42.

The news agency said at least 324,550 are active cases while more than 496,030 have recovered.

The country ordered a strict lockdown in all provinces, cities, and districts from May 12 while the health workers are conducting an “intensive examination of all the people,” the agency said.

The government-run media call the infected “people with fever” and avoid calling it Covid-19, partly because the hermit kingdom does not have the means, like testing equipment, to confirm infections on a large scale.

“The public health and epidemic prevention sectors have minutely observed the characteristics of the progress of disease of fevered persons and confirmed scientific and reasonable methods for curing them,” KCNA said.

However, the news agency noted a large proportion of the dead included those “careless in taking drugs due to the lack of knowledge and understanding of stealth Omicron variant virus infection.”

The Omicron is a highly-infectious variant of the coronavirus. The news agency had previously confirmed the presence of the virus strain in the country but avoided referring to it as the Covid-19 outbreak.

Health authorities have set up emergency and investigation teams to trace the routes of infection and its origin.

Medical supplies are being sent urgently to hospitals and clinics treating the infected.

Pyongyang on Thursday confirmed its first Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began more than two years ago.

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

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 COVAX program of the World Health Organization.

North Korea and Eritrea are the only two countries that have not reported a single jab 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. EFE asb-mra/ssk

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