North Korea reports 21 deaths amid Covid-19 outbreak

Seoul, May 14 (EFE).- North Korea Saturday reported 21 suspected Covid-19 deaths and 174,400 new infections from a mysterious fever two days after the country declared its first coronavirus cases and enforced a nationwide lockdown in the “greatest upheaval since the founding of the country.”

The state-run Korea Central News Agency said the overall number of infections due to “fever” recorded from April end until Friday was 524,440, of which 234,630 have “fully recovered.”

Some 288,810 patients were receiving treatment, while the number of fatalities rose to 27, the news agency said.

It did not specify that the Covid-19 outbreak caused the deaths and infections.

KCNA said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un chaired an emergency meeting of the politburo “on the spread of infectious diseases.”

“In most cases, it was noted that human casualties were caused by negligence, including drug overdose, because scientific treatment methods were not well known,” the news agency said.

“The politburo discussed practical policy measures to quickly suppress and control the spread of infectious diseases across the country,” the news agency said.

Kim said the spread of the “virulent infectious disease in our country is the greatest upheaval since the foundation of the country, just as the spread of the new coronavirus is very serious around the world.”

Kim pointed out the seriousness of the situation and called for strengthening quarantine measures to overcome “the crisis.”

He said most of the patients were mildly sick.

Kim defended the strict border closure his country undertook in 2020 and urged local authorities to refine their confinement protocols and make people aware of its importance.

The leader blamed the health crisis in the country on the “incompetence” and “irresponsibility” of the agencies responsible for the lockdown, stressing the importance of studying measures applied in other countries.

The hermit kingdom had not confirmed a single positive coronavirus case until Thursday when it confirmed the first covid outbreak 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 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.


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