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    COVID-19 'great disaster' in North Korea; all you need to know

    COVID-19 'great disaster' in North Korea; all you need to know

    COVID-19 'great disaster' in North Korea; all you need to know
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    By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Published)

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    On Monday, 8 new deaths were reported and 392,920 more people were said to be suffering from fever symptoms amid a growing Covid-19 outbreak in the country’s capital

    After calling the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak a "great disaster", Kim Jong-un, the Supreme Leader of North Korea, has ordered the army to "immediately stabilise the supply of medicines in Pyongyang City".
    On Monday, eight deaths were reported and 392,920 more people were said to be suffering from fever symptoms amid COVID-19 outbreak in the country’s capital Pyongyang, AP reported.
    Over 1.2 million people have taken ill since late April by what Pyongyang is calling a "fever". About 564,860 people have been put in quarantine. With the eight new deaths reported in the 24 hours through 6 pm on Sunday, the total death country is now 50. However, as North Korea has only limited COVID-19 testing capacity, it is unclear how many of those suspected cases tested positive for the virus, the BBC said.
    The situation so far
    North Korea reported its first death due to COVID-19 on last Thursday. The state media also said 187,000 people were suffering from fever and were "isolated and treated". According to experts, the virus has most likely been circulating in the country for some time. However, the country held that it has a perfect record of keeping out the virus for more than two years.
    Measures being taken
    "Maximum emergency" virus controls have been imposed in North Korea, including lockdowns and gathering restrictions in workplaces.
    On Sunday, Kim Jong-un lambasted health officials during a ruling party Politburo meeting for what he considered a botched pandemic response. He said medicine supplies have not reached pharmacies in time due to the “irresponsible work attitude” and lack of organisation of government and health officials, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said.
    The leader has asked the medical units of the military to get involved in stabilising the medicine supply in Pyongyang.
    Meanwhile, the Politburo has ordered an immediate release and quick distribution of state medicine reserves. It has also asked pharmacies to work for 24-hours a day.
    Earlier, the state media had reported that a workforce of over 1.3 million people, including medical university students, teachers and public health officials, had been mobilised to identify those with fevers or other symptoms in order to quarantine them immediately.
    What are the implications?
    China and South Korea, which have both battled COVID-19 outbreaks, share their borders with North Korea. At present, China is trying to contain an Omicron wave with lockdowns in its biggest cities. Although widely doubted, North Korea claims to have staved off a huge outbreak until now by sealing its borders early in January 2020.
    The failure to contain the spread of the virus could have drastic implications, considering the poor healthcare system in the country, AP reported. North Korea has a population of 26 million people, who are believed to be mostly unvaccinated as the government had previously turned down offers of vaccines from China and the World Health Organization's Covax scheme.
    Apart from the health impact, the international community fears that North Korea could suffer food shortages as the agricultural workers are unable to tend the fields.
    China and rival South Korea have both offered to send aid to the country if requested. Seoul has offered to send vaccine doses, health workers, and medical equipment.
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