North Korea reports 21 new fever deaths amid country’s first COVID-19 outbreak

North Korea says 21 people have died and 174,440 people have recently been found with fever symptoms as the country struggles to curb the spread of COVID-19 among its unvaccinated population.

The deaths and cases, which were from Friday, brought the total number to 27 deaths and 524,440 illnesses amid a rapid spread of the fever since late April. North Korea said 243,630 people had recovered and 280,810 remained in quarantine. State media did not specify how many of the fever cases and deaths were confirmed as COVID-19 infections.

The country imposed nationwide lockdowns on Thursday after confirming its first COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic.

During a meeting on anti-virus strategies on Saturday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un described the outbreak as a historic “major disruption” and called for unity between the government and the people to stabilize the outbreak as quickly as possible.

Experts say the failure to control the spread of COVID-19 could have devastating consequences in North Korea, considering the country’s poor health care system and its 26 million people are unvaccinated.

CLOCK | North Korea confirms first coronavirus deaths:

North Korea confirms first COVID-19 deaths days after admitting first outbreak

Six people have died and 350,000 have been treated for a fever that has spread “explosively” across North Korea, according to state media. One of the six people who died was confirmed to be infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

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. So far, the country has officially confirmed one death related to an Omicron infection.

The viral spread may have accelerated after a few tens of thousands of civilians and troops gathered for a massive military parade in Pyongyang on April 25, where Kim took center stage and displayed the most powerful missiles from his military nuclear program.

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