North Korea confirms 21 new deaths in fight against COVID-19

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

FILE – An employee at the Kyonghung Foodstuff General Store disinfects the countertops of the showroom in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, November 10, 2021. Before recognizing domestic COVID-19 cases on Thursday, May 12, 2022, North Korea spent 2 1/2 years rejecting offers of vaccines from outside and staunchly claiming that its superior socialist system protected its 26 million people from a malignant virus that had killed millions around the world. (AP Photo/Cha Song Ho, file)

SEOUL – North Korea on Saturday reported 21 new deaths and 174,440 more people with fever symptoms as the country scrambles to slow the spread of COVID-19 among its unvaccinated population.

The deaths and cases that emerged Friday brought the total to 27 deaths and 524,440 illnesses as the fever spread rapidly since late April. North Korea said 243,630 people have recovered and 280,810 remain in quarantine. State media have not specified how many of the fevers and deaths have been confirmed as COVID-19 infections.

The country imposed nationwide lockdowns on Thursday after confirming its first COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un described the outbreak as a historically “major disruption” during an antivirus strategy meeting on Saturday and called for unity between the government and the people to stabilize the outbreak as soon as possible.

Experts say a failure to stem the spread of COVID-19 could have devastating consequences for North Korea given the country’s poor health care system and its 26 million people largely unvaccinated.


State media said tests of virus samples collected on Sunday from an unspecified number of people with fevers in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, confirmed they were infected with the Omicron variant. The country has so far officially confirmed one death related to Omicron infection.

The spread of the virus could have accelerated after an estimated tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers gathered for a massive military parade in Pyongyang on April 25, where Kim took center stage, showcasing the most powerful missiles from his military’s nuclear program.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. North Korea confirms 21 new deaths in fight against COVID-19

Joel McCord

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