North Korea’s first Covid outbreak a ‘great disaster’

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North Korea’s first Covid outbreak a ‘great disaster’

North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, declared the country's first Covid 19 outbreak a great disaster, as it reported 21 more deaths.

On Friday alone, 174,440 people were found with fever symptoms, as the country scrambles to slow the spread of Covid 19 across its unvaccinated population.

North Korea said on Saturday 27 people have died and 524,440 have fallen ill because of a rapid spread of fever since late April. It said 280,810 people are still in quarantine.

State media didn't say how many of the fever cases and deaths were confirmed as Covid 19 cases.

During a meeting on anti-viruses strategies on Saturday, Kim described the outbreak as a historic huge disruption and called for unity between the government and people to try to control the outbreak as soon as possible.

The country imposed nationwide lockdowns on Thursday after it confirmed its first Covid 19 infections since the start of the epidemic.

State media said Sunday of virus samples collected from an unspecified number of people with fever in the country's capital, Pyongyang, confirmed they were infected with the Omicron variant. One death was confirmed by the country as linked to an Omicron infection.

Experts say that a failure to control the spread of Covid could have devastating consequences for North Korea, given the country's poor healthcare system and 26 million people who are largely unvaccinated.

North Korea has so far shunned Covid vaccines from China and Russia, and the World Health Organization's Covax scheme, apparently because administering the jabs would require outside monitoring.

Leif-Eric Easley, professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said the regime's public acknowledgment of coronavirus cases meant the public health situation must be serious.