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North Korea admits its biggest covid crisis: more than 170,000 cases and 21 deaths in one day

North Korea on Saturday reported 21 new deaths and 174,440 cases of people with fever symptoms in the last 24 hours, and seeks to curb what it admitted as its biggest crisis by Covid-19in a country where the majority of the population is not vaccinated against the virus.

The new deaths and infections, which were recorded on Friday, increase the official death toll to 27 people and the number of those infected to 524,440, amid the rapid spread of a febrile illness detected in late April in the hermetic Asian country.

Pyongyang facilitated this Saturday the update of the Pandemic data after the convocation early in the day of an urgent meeting of the national politburo chaired by the leader, Kim Jong-un, who referred to the health crisis as “the greatest ordeal since the founding of the country“.

According to the balance, published by the KCNA news agency, from the end of April until Friday, 524,440 people suffering from a fever apparently linked to Covid-19 had been detected in the country. Of these, 234,630 have recovered and 288,810 are receiving treatment.

A high school student disinfects her hands before entering school, in Pyongyang. Photo: AP

no vaccinations

The Pyongyang regime confirmed this Thursday its first cases of covid since the detection of the disease more than two years ago in neighboring China, and declared the “maximum emergency”.

For more than two years, North Korea has maintained that it had recorded no infections from the virus, a claim challenged as governments around the world grapple with a virus that has reached nearly every corner of the globe.

The country’s authorities detected the virus after testing a group of people in the capital, where the subvariant omicron BA.2 was identified, which has spread rapidly throughout the world in the last six months and has led the Asian country to declare the “maximum health emergency”.

The situation is worrying contagious which has proven to be the detected variant and due to the fact that the country, which has little testing capacity, has rejected the donation of almost five million doses of vaccines through the COVAX mechanism, has not put a single puncture and currently does not have a national inoculation plan.

At the meeting held this Saturday, the regime’s highest decision-making body discussed practical measures “to quickly suppress and control the spread of infectious diseases throughout the country” and review its antivirus system as soon as possible, according to details released by KCNA.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un chaired his party's Political Committee meeting on Saturday.  Photo: EFE

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un chaired his party’s Political Committee meeting on Saturday. Photo: EFE

Strengthen the quarantine

Kim, who noted the seriousness of the situation, called for strengthening measures of quarantine to overcome “the crisis”, and assured that most of the patients are having a “mild” illness.

The leader of the North Korean regime defended the tight border closure that his country decreed in 2020, with the outbreak of the pandemic, and called on local authorities to refine their quarantine systems and make the population aware of its importance.

Kim blamed the current Pandemic situation in the country on the “incompetence” and “irresponsibility” of the organizations that were supposed to manage the quarantines, stressing the importance of them studying the policies applied in other countries and their achievements.

Experts warn that if the spread of Covid-19 is not controlled, the country could suffer devastating consequences, considering that North Korea has a poor health system and that most of its 26 million inhabitants are not vaccinated.

international tension

The contagions could have accelerated after an estimated tens of thousands of civilians and military gathered to a massive parade in Pyongyang on April 25, where Kim took center stage and displayed the most powerful missiles from his military nuclear program.

The moment chosen by the regime to make public the detection of its first cases of covid has intrigued analysts, since it took place just a week before the president of the United States, Joe Biden, travels to South Korea.

Pyongyang, which adds a record number of missile launches in 2022 after approving a weapons modernization plan last year, turned a deaf ear to the offers of Seoul and Washington to resume the dialoguethough at the same time Biden made hardly any direct references to North Korea during his tenure.

All eyes are now on the message that comes out of the summit between Biden and the new South Korean president, Yoon Suk-yeol, who promised to be less tolerant of the North, although he said he was willing to talk to Pyongyang about sending vaccines.

Source: EFE and AP


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