North Korea records 1st Covid-19 death amid 350,000 cases with fever of ‘unidentified origin’

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North Korea has reported its first Covid-19 death.

Dead individual confirmed to have Covid-19

North Korea’s state news agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on May 13 that one person who was confirmed to have the Covid-19 Omicron BA.2 subvariant had died.

This comes after a fever of unidentified origin has “explosively spread nationwide” since late April 2022.

Around 350,000 people have shown symptoms related to the fever, of which, 162,200 have “healed completely”.

However, KCNA did not specify how many had tested positive for Covid-19.

On May 12, there were 18,800 individuals infected with this fever, and as many as 187,800 individuals are being treated in isolation.

Additionally, five others with the fever symptoms have died.

Confirmed Covid-19 outbreak a day ago

This comes just after the country confirmed a Covid-19 outbreak on May 12.

KCNA reported that the highly transmissible Omicron variant has been detected in the capital of Pyongyang.

Nation under lockdown

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un called the outbreak the “gravest state emergency”.

Kim called for a thorough lockdown of cities and counties on May 12, as well as for workplaces to be reorganised into isolated units to contain the spread of the virus.

The state has also switched the state epidemic prevention system to the “maximum emergency epidemic prevention system”.

This includes actively isolating and treating people with the “unidentified fever” as a top priority, reported Reuters.

At the same time, the country will be devising scientific treatment methods “at a lightning tempo” and bolstering measures to supply medications.

In a previous report, North Korea said its scientists have managed to develop its own Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) equipment to test for Covid-19.

It claimed that the PCR test was able to hold up against global standards.

Refused multiple international offers of vaccines

Emergency reserve medical supplies will also be mobilised, reported KCNA.

North Korea has declined several offers for shipments of vaccines, medical supplies, and personal protective equipment, reported The New York Times.

It was previously reported that the country has also rejected offers of two million doses of the AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine and 2.97 million doses of the Chinese-made Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine in July and September 2021 respectively.

These vaccines are under the global COVAX distribution scheme which is managed by United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

Separately, Russian officials have also said North Korea has not taken up repeated offers from Moscow to supply the country with its Sputnik vaccine.

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Top image from KCNA website