North Korea says it’s nearing the end of the COVID-19 crisis as Asian neighbors battle resurgence


North Korea is on track to “finally defuse” a crisis stemming from its first recognized outbreak of COVID-19, the state news agency said on Monday, as Asian neighbors battle a new wave of infections fueled by Omicron sub-variants. .

North Korea says 99.98% of its 4.77 million fever patients since the end of April have fully recovered, but due to an apparent lack of testing, it has not released any figures for those who have tested positive.

“The anti-epidemic campaign is enhanced to finally defuse the crisis completely,” KCNA said. He added that the North had reported 310 more people with fever symptoms.

The World Health Organization has disputed North Korea’s claims, saying last month it believed the situation was getting worse, not better, amid a lack of independent data.

The North’s declaration could herald the restoration of trade long hampered by the pandemic, an analyst said.

“Under the current trend, North Korea could announce in less than a month that its COVID crisis is over and that could be a prelude to resuming cross-border trade,” said Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Korea think tank. North of the Sejong Institute. in South Korea

Analysts say the authoritarian North has used the pandemic to tighten already strict social controls. Pyongyang blamed its outbreak on “strange things” near its border with the South, and urged its people to avoid anything coming from abroad.

Daily new fever cases in North Korea reported by KCNA have been on the decline since the reclusive country first acknowledged in mid-May that it was battling an outbreak of COVID-19.

Lacking a public vaccination effort, the North said it was conducting intensive medical checks across the country, with daily PCR tests on water collected in border areas between measures.

North Korea also said it has been developing new methods to better detect the virus and its variants, as well as other infectious diseases such as monkeypox.

North Korea’s claim of “anti-epidemic stability” comes as other Asian countries grapple with a new wave of infections. China reported 691 new cases for Saturday with locally transmitted infections at their highest since May 23.

In the neighboring south, daily COVID infections topped 40,000 on Tuesday for the first time in two months, with authorities and experts forecasting hundreds of thousands of new cases in the coming weeks.

Japan also warned that a new wave of infections appeared to be spreading rapidly, as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called for special attention ahead of the summer school break.

Tokyo’s 16,878 new cases on Wednesday were the highest since February, while the national tally topped 90,000, in a recent spike in infections to levels not seen since earlier this year.

Information from Soo-hyang Choi; Edited by Clarence Fernandez


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