A day after admitting COVID-19 outbreak, North Korea says nearly 190,000 people are in quarantine

North Korea said on Friday six people had died and nearly 190,000 were in quarantine following a rapid spread of fever across the country in recent weeks, a day after first acknowledging a outbreak of COVID-19 in a largely unvaccinated population.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Friday that more than 350,000 people have been treated for a fever that has spread “explosively” across the country since late April and that 162,200 people have recovered. He said 187,800 people were in isolation for treatment after 18,000 people were newly found with fever symptoms on Thursday alone.

It was not immediately known how many cases were COVID-19, and the country likely lacks testing supplies.

The North said one of the six people who died was confirmed to have been infected with the Omicron variant.

North Korea imposed a nationwide lockdown on Thursday to control its first recognized COVID-19 outbreak after maintaining a widely questioned claim for more than two years that it has completely beaten back the virus that has spread. spread to almost all places in the world.

State media said testing of virus samples taken Sunday from an unknown number of people with fever in the capital, Pyongyang, confirmed they were infected with the Omicron variant. The reports do not specify the number of cases.

Missile testing continues

Hours after North Korea confirmed the outbreak on Thursday, South Korea’s military said it detected the North firing three short-range ballistic missiles towards the sea in what may have been a show of force after leader Kim Jong-un has publicly acknowledged the virus outbreak.

It was the North’s 16th round of missile launches this year as it pushes a tightrope aimed at forcing the United States to accept North Korea as a nuclear power and negotiate sanctions relief and other concessions in a position of strength.

Experts say a failure to slow coronavirus infections could have serious consequences as the country has a poor healthcare system and its 26 million people are believed to be mostly unvaccinated.

KCNA said Kim was made aware of the fever during his visit to the state’s emergency epidemic prevention headquarters on Thursday and criticized officials for failing to prevent “a vulnerable point in the epidemic prevention system.” “.

He said the spread of the fever was centered around Pyongyang and neighboring areas and stressed the importance of isolating all work, production and residential units from each other while providing residents with all amenities to curb the spread of the “malicious virus”.

“It is the most important challenge and the supreme tasks facing our party to reverse the immediate public health crisis situation at the earliest, to restore the stability of epidemic prevention and to protect health and welfare. -being of our people,” Kim said, citing KCNA. .