North Korea announced that six people died amid an “explosive” spread of fever a day after it reported a COVID-19 outbreak for the first time.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on May 13 that six people died, one of whom tested positive for the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron.
KCNA also reported that up to 187,800 people were “being isolated and treated” after a fever of unidentified origin spread nationwide since late April.
More than 350,000 people had shown signs of fever “in a short amount of time,” including around 18,000 on May 12 alone, without specifying how many had tested positive for COVID-19.
According to KCNA, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters on May 12 to assess the situation, which it described as an “immediate public health crisis.”
KCNA further reported that Kim said that the “top priority” was “to block the virus spread by actively locking down areas and isolating and treating persons with fever in a responsible manner.”
While North Korea has only admitted on May 12 that it was tackling a COVID-19 outbreak, experts believe that the virus has been present in the East Asian country for some time.
There have been unconfirmed reports of COVID-19 cases and workers wearing hazmat suits in North Korea throughout the pandemic, despite the country’s earlier claims that it had “shining success” in keeping out the virus.
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