COVID-19 Situation In North Korea Spiraling Out Of Control With 296,180 New Infections And 15 Deaths In the Last 24 Hours.
North Korea COVID-19 News
: Health authorities in North Korea on Sunday morning have confirmed another 296,180 new SARS-CoV-2 infections and 15 deaths In the last 24 hours.
The additional deaths took the country's reported fever-related fatalities to 42.
The official Korean Central News Agency also reported that with the new 296,180 cases, the reported toll is now roughly 820,620. However, some speculate the actual figures could be about 4 to 5-fold as many are afraid to report their conditions coupled with lack of test kits and also all hospitals and clinics are already overcrowded at the present time.
The country is mobilizing more than a million health and other workers to try to suppress the country's first COVID-19 outbreak, state media reported Sunday.
Thousands across the country are reporting fever related illnesses coupled with other symptoms such as coughing, sore throats, headaches, fatigue and for some, difficulty in breathing.
According to researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing that has volunteered to help conduct sequencings of the samples collected in North Korea, preliminary data is showing that there are a variety of BA.2 and BA.4 subvariants at play in North Korea including a new BA.2.12.1 subvariant that they are temporarily labelling as BA.220.127.116.11
North Korea had initially declared itself to be coronavirus-free for the last two years despite widely disputed claims.
However last Thursday, it announced that it had found its first COVID-19 patients since the pandemic began.
According to local North Korea COVID-19 News
, it was said that a fever has spread across the country "explosively" since late April but hasn't disclosed exactly how many COVID-19 cases were found.
Experts are saying that North Korea lacks the diagnostic kits needed to test a large number of suspected COVID-19 patients.
This outbreak has triggered concern about a humanitarian crisis in North Korea because most of the country's 26 million people are believed to be unvaccinated against the coronavirus and its public health care system has been in shambles for decades.
It has few hospitals and most are not properly equipped and as far as ICU wards and ventilators are concerned, it is almost non-existent.
Most of its outpatient clinics are run by individuals who are eve professionally trained as doctors or nurses!
Many experts are warning that North Korea might suffer huge fatalities if it doesn't immediately receive outside shipments of vaccines, medicines and other medical supplies.
Dr Cheong Seong-Chang from South Korea's Sejong Institute told Thailand Medical News, "Without COVID-19 test kits, North Korea is resorting to body temperature checks to guess at infections. But with such a very inferior and inaccurate method of examination, it's impossible to find asymptomatic virus carriers and control viral surges."
He added, "As North Korea's (suspected) COVID-19 infections are explosively increasing, its death toll is expected to co
ntinue to rise.”
North Korea has since last Thursday imposed a nationwide lockdown to fight the virus. That could further strain the country's fragile economy, which has suffered in recent years due to sharply reduced external trade caused by pandemic-related border shutdowns, punishing U.N. economic sanctions over its nuclear program and its own mismanagement, observers say.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a meeting on the outbreak Saturday, described the outbreak as a historically "great upheaval" and called for unity between the government and people to stabilize the outbreak as quickly as possible.
The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Sunday said that more than 1 million people have been engaged in works to examine and treat sick people and raise public awareness of hygiene. It said everyone with fevers and others with abnormal symptoms was being put in quarantine and treated.
The news agency also said the elevated pandemic response includes the establishment of more quarantine facilities, the urgent transportation of medical supplies to hospitals and increased disinfection efforts.
KCNA said, "All provinces, cities and counties of the country have been totally locked down and working units, production units and residential units closed from each other since the morning of May 12 and strict and intensive examination of all the people is being conducted."
The country's emergency epidemic prevention center reported that of those with symptoms, 496,030 have recovered, while as of Saturday 324,550 were still receiving treatment.
Various local media reported that President Kim and other senior North Korean officials are donating their private reserve medicines to support the country's anti-pandemic fight. During Saturday's meeting, Kim expressed optimism that the country could bring the outbreak under control, saying most transmissions are occurring within communities that are isolated from one another and not spreading from region to region.
Shockingly, despite the outbreak, Kim has ordered officials to go ahead with planned economic, construction and other state projects, a suggestion that authorities aren't requiring people to confine themselves at home.
Despite admitting its virus outbreak Thursday, hours later North Korea fired ballistic missiles toward the sea in a continuation of its recent streak of weapons tests.
It was reported that Kim, accompanied by top deputies, visited a mourning station Saturday set up for senior official Yang Hyong Sop, who died a day earlier, to express his condolences and meet bereaved relatives.
Another news release by KCNA on Sunday said that officials and laborers in the northeast were launching initiatives to prevent an expected spring drought from damaging crop yields and quality.
Both South Korea and China have offered to send vaccines, medical supplies and other aid shipments to North Korea, but Pyongyang hasn't publicly responded to the overtures.
Authorities in North Korea previously rebuffed millions of doses of vaccines offered by the U.N.-backed COVAX distribution program amid speculation that it worried about possible side effects of vaccines or international monitoring requirements attached to those shots.
It was blatantly said by White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday that the United States supported international aid efforts but doesn't plan to share its vaccine supplies with North Korea!
However, the North Korean virus outbreak could still be a major topic of discussion when President Joe Biden visits Seoul later this week for a summit with newly inaugurated South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.
Former South Korea's spy chief Park Jie-won wrote Friday on Facebook that he had proposed in May 2021 as the then-director of the National Intelligence Service that Washington send 60 million doses of vaccines to North Korea as humanitarian aid via COVAX. He said there were later talks in the U.N. and the Vatican about shipping 60 million doses to North Korea as well, but such aid was never realized as no formal offers were ever made to North Korea.
As of press time today, it was reported that crowds comprising of hundreds of sick people are gathering outside hospitals and makeshift health centers across the country trying to secure treatments or any available meds.It was said that even basic analgesics and NSAIDs were not available in the country.
Thailand Medical News has started a humanitarian initiative in which we are donating oxygen concentrators, test kits, basic meds and also herbal products to North Korea via using medical groups in Pakistan that are arranging the shipments.
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