North Korea’s COVID count nears 2 million

The COVID-19 outbreak in North Korea soared to nearly 2 million on Thursday, exactly one week after the Hermit Kingdom admitted its first case.

The secretive nation, which until last week dubiously claimed to have completely escaped COVID for two and a half years, confirmed 262,270 more cases on Thursday.

That brought the tally to more than 1.98 million fever sufferers, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

However, experts believe the tally is likely to be much higher given the isolated nation’s lack of testing capacity, and the death toll is also likely to soar due to a lack of key medical supplies and care units. intensive.

The outbreak began in late April and spread after despot Kim Jong Un oversaw a grand parade marking the 110th anniversary of the birth of his state-founding grandfather, South Korea’s Newsis agency said, citing lawmakers briefed by the seoul spy agency.

North Korea admitted the first case of COVID-19 in the country last week.
Korea Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP
Members of the North Korean military supply medicine to residents.
According to reports, more than 1.98 million North Koreans have a fever.
Kyodo via REUTERS
A worker in protective gear stands on an empty sidewalk.
At least 740,160 people are in quarantine.
Korea Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

At least 740,160 people are also under quarantine, the agency said, with footage showing health workers in hazmat suits policing Pyongyang’s shuttered streets, disinfecting buildings and streets, and delivering food and other supplies to city blocks. apartments.

Despite the rise in cases, the kingdom’s antivirus headquarters reported just one additional death, bringing its number to just 63, an abnormally small number compared to suspected infections, experts said.

Kee Park, a global health specialist at Harvard Medical School who has worked on health care projects in North Korea, has predicted that tens of thousands could eventually die.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, visits a pharmacy in Pyongyang.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a pharmacy in Pyongyang.
Korea Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP
A doctor visits a family during an activity to raise awareness about COVID-19 prevention measures.
North Korea’s antivirus headquarters reported a death toll of just 63.
Korea Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

Authoritarian leader Kim called the outbreak a “major upheaval,” berating officials for allowing the virus to spread and restricting the movement of people and supplies between cities and regions.

Experts say the country cannot afford a shutdown because the economy is already bankrupt from mismanagement, crippling US-led sanctions over Kim’s nuclear weapons ambitions and pandemic border closures.

The country has refused millions of vaccines offered by the UN-backed COVAX distribution program, likely due to the international monitoring requirements that are required to receive the vaccines.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, delivers a speech.
Kim Jong Un rebuked North Korean officials for allowing the virus to spread.
Korea Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP
Staff disinfecting the premises.
North Korea has refused millions of vaccines offered by the UN-backed COVAX distribution program.
KCNA/EPA
Military personnel from the Korean People's Army Medical Corps attend the launch of a campaign to improve drug supply.
Military personnel from the Korean People’s Army Medical Corps attend the launch of a campaign to improve drug supply.
EyePress/Shutterstock News

It has also ignored offers of help from South Korea and the United States to contain the outbreak, according to Kim Tae-hyo, deputy national security adviser to South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.

Experts have said North Korea may be more willing to accept help from China, its main ally.

with post wires

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