SEOUL, South Korea ( Associated Press) — North Korea said Saturday that 21 people have died and 174,440 cases of fever have been detected as the country tries to curb the spread of COVID-19 among its largely unvaccinated people. .
The new deaths and cases occurred on Friday, bringing the official total to 27 deaths and 524,440 sick people amid a rapidly spreading febrile illness since late April. The North Korean government said 243,630 people have recovered and 280,810 remain in quarantine. State media did not say specifically how many of the fever cases and deaths were confirmed as COVID-19 cases.
The country imposed nationwide lockdowns on Thursday after confirming its first COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic. For more than two years, North Korea had made a widely disputed claim that it had kept the virus at bay, which has spread to almost every part of the world.
During a meeting on strategies to combat the virus on Saturday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called the outbreak a “huge upheaval” in history, calling for unity between the government and the people to stabilize it as soon as possible.
Experts warn that failure to control the spread of COVID-19 could have devastating consequences for North Korea, given that the country has a poor health system and most of its 26 million people are unvaccinated.
State media said tests of virus samples collected on Sunday from an unspecified number of people with a fever in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, confirmed they were infected with the omicron variant of the new coronavirus. So far the country has officially confirmed one death related to an omicron infection.
Virus infections may have accelerated after an estimated tens of thousands of civilians and military personnel gathered for a massive parade in Pyongyang on April 25, where Kim took center stage and displayed the most powerful missiles of his nuclear program. military.