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North Korea on Sunday reported 15 further deaths from “fever”, days after formally confirming its first-ever Covid-19 circumstances and ordering nationwide lockdowns.

The outbreak, which chief Kim Jong Un has mentioned is inflicting “great upheaval”, leaves a rustic with one of many world’s worst healthcare techniques on the sting of potential catastrophe.

North Korea has no Covid vaccines, antiviral remedy medication or mass-testing capability.

Whereas it has maintained a inflexible coronavirus blockade for the reason that pandemic’s begin, consultants have mentioned that huge Omicron outbreaks in neighbouring international locations meant it was solely a matter of time earlier than Covid snuck in.

Regardless of activating a “maximum emergency quarantine system” to sluggish the illness’s unfold by its unvaccinated inhabitants, Pyongyang is now reporting giant numbers of recent circumstances each day.

Official state media KCNA on Sunday mentioned 42 individuals had died for the reason that outbreak’s starting, with 820,620 circumstances and no less than 324,550 receiving medical remedy.

The information company reported that “all provinces, cities and counties of the country have been totally locked down and working units, production units and residential units closed from each other.”

North Korea first revealed the extremely contagious Omicron variant had been detected within the capital on Thursday, with Kim ordering nationwide lockdowns after an emergency assembly of the nation’s Politburo.

“The spread of malignant disease comes to be a great upheaval in our country,” Kim mentioned Saturday.

— Studying from China —

Sunday’s KCNA report didn’t specify whether or not the brand new circumstances and deaths examined optimistic for Covid-19, however consultants say the nation will wrestle to display screen and diagnose on this scale.

North Korea’s healthcare system ranked 193 out of 195 international locations in a 2021 Johns Hopkins College survey.

Kim has mentioned the nation will “actively learn” from China’s pandemic administration technique, in line with KCNA.

China, the world’s solely main financial system nonetheless sustaining a zero-Covid coverage, is battling a number of Omicron outbreaks — with lockdowns in some main cities, together with monetary hub Shanghai, sparking growing public frustration.

North Korea has beforehand turned down affords of Covid vaccines from China and the World Well being Group’s Covax scheme, however each Beijing and Seoul have issued contemporary affords of help and vaccines for the reason that outbreak was introduced.

Regardless of the general public well being disaster, new satellite tv for pc imagery signifies North Korea has resumed development at a long-dormant nuclear reactor.

The US and South Korea have warned that Kim is making ready to conduct one other nuclear take a look at — the regime’s seventh — and that it might come any day.

Analysts have warned Kim might pace up nuclear testing plans to distract North Korea’s inhabitants from the disastrous coronavirus outbreak.

bur-sh/cwl

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