Society 12:56 14/05/2022 World

Covid outbreak in North Korea a great disaster, says Kim Jong-un

North Korea's rapidly spreading Covid-19 outbreak is a "great disaster" for the country, its leader Kim Jong-un has said, according to state media.

Mr Kim called for an all-out battle to tackle the spread of the virus during an emergency meeting on Saturday, BBC News reported.

It comes after officials announced the first confirmed cases on Thursday - although experts believe the virus has likely been circulating for some time.

There are fears a major outbreak could have dire consequences in North Korea.

Its population of 25 million is vulnerable due to the lack of a vaccination programme and poor healthcare system.

And on Saturday, state media reported that there had been half a million cases of unexplained fever in recent weeks. The country has limited testing capabilities so most Covid cases are not confirmed.

That figure marked a major increase on the numbers given on both Friday and Thursday, potentially providing some indication of the scale of North Korea's outbreak.

"The spread of the malignant epidemic is [the greatest] turmoil to fall on our country since the founding," the official KCNA news agency quoted Mr Kim as saying.

He blamed the crisis on bureaucratic and medical incompetence, and suggested lessons could be learnt from the response of countries like neighbouring China.

State media reports that 27 people have died since April after suffering a fever.

The reports do not say whether they tested positive for Covid, apart from one death in the capital Pyongyang which was confirmed to be a case of the Omicron variant.



Source Panorama.am
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