North Korea admits a first death from covid and thousands of infections

North Korea has announced his first death for covidsaying that the virus has already spread across the country and that tens of thousands of people are being “isolated and treated”.

The isolated country reported on Thursday its first cases of coronavirus and declared it was going into “maximum emergency outbreak prevention” mode, after some people tested positive for the Omicron BA.2 subvariant. The official KCNA news agency said on Friday that the Leader Kim Jong Un visited the national epidemic prevention headquarters where he “learned about the spread of covid throughout the country.” Six people with “fever” have died in the country, including one who tested positive for Omicron’s BA.2 subvariant, according to the KCNA.

“More of 350,000 people have contracted the fever in a short time and at least 162,200 of them are completely cured,” the same source explained. “On May 12 alone, some 18,000 people had a fever throughout the country, and currently 187,800 people are isolated and receiving treatment.

Vaccine refusal

None of the 25 million inhabitants of the country have been vaccinated against the coronavirusas Pyongyang has rejected offers of vaccination from the World Health OrganizationChina and Russia.

Kim Jong Unwho appeared for the first time on television wearing a mask, on Thursday presided over a emergency meeting of the political bureau on the situation of the outbreak. He ordered containment measures to try to stop the spread of the virus. “This is the most important challenge and task for our party to quickly reverse this health crisis situation,” the KCNA said.

North Korea, which was one of the first countries in the world to close its borders in January 2020 after the virus emerged in neighboring China, has long boasted about its ability to keep the virus at bay. So far, it has not reported any confirmed cases of covid to the WHO.

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According to analysts, the virus may have already spread throughout the country, including at major events held in April in Pyongyangin particular a military parade on April 25 in which neither the participants nor the spectators wore masks.

“The organization of a military parade attended by large crowds while Omicron raged in the Chinese neighbor shows that Pyongyang was too confident in its ability to fight and prevent the virus,” Cheong Seong-chang, an expert on North Korea at the Sejong Institute, told AFP. The country could face a major health crisis, as Omicron is highly communicable, he said, noting that Pyongyang recorded nearly 20,000 cases in a single day.

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