North Korea claims to have Covid-19 under control

North Korea’s KCNA news agency said May 24 that Covid-19 is on a steady downward trend, the number of patients with symptoms below 200,000 for the third straight day.

“A few days after the maximum activation of the emergency epidemic prevention and control system, the nationwide morbidity and mortality rate fell significantly, the number of recoveries increased, the situation stabilized, the pandemic was contained and effectively controlled,” KCNA said, where highlighting North Korea’s achievements in fighting the Covid-19 outbreak.

North Korea is expanding production of essential medicines, but it’s not clear what specific drugs are involved. The country has not yet confirmed the total number of people who have tested positive for nCoV. The health authorities only report the number of people with fever symptoms. This makes it difficult to assess the extent of the Covid-19 wave.

North Korean officials are distributing food and medicine across the country and using military medical forces to distribute and administer tests. More than a million health workers, including medical students and faculty, have been mobilized to contain and completely eliminate the source of the infection.

KCNA reported that at least 134,000 people showed fever symptoms on May 24. The total number of fever cases in this country is 2.95 million, of which 68 people have died. As soon as the authorities registered the first infection on May 12, leader Kim Jong Un immediately ordered a blockade of cities. KCNA called it a “serious situation.” The authorities have raised the measures to combat the epidemic to the highest emergency level.

The outbreak in North Korea could answer questions about the true severity of the omicron circulating around the world, experts say. Previously, scientists didn’t know if the variant in Wuhan didn’t leave symptoms as severe as the original version, or if the vaccine was highly effective and lessened the effects in general.

Employees spray disinfectant and wipe surfaces at a children's department store in Pyongyang, North Korea in March Photo: AFP.

Employees spray disinfectant and wipe down surfaces at a children’s department store in Pyongyang, North Korea. Picture: AFP

Thuk Linh (Corresponding Reuters)