North Korea said on Sunday that a total of 42 people had died in the fourth day of a nationwide lockdown aimed at halting the poorest country’s first confirmed COVID-19 outbreak.
North Korea’s acknowledgment on Thursday that it is battling an “explosive” COVID-19 outbreak has raised concerns that the virus could destroy a country with a low-resource health system, limited testing capacity and no vaccine program.
The state news agency KCNA said the country was taking “rapid state emergency measures” to control the epidemic, but there were no signs that Pyongyang was accepting international offers of the vaccine.
“All provinces, cities and counties in the country have been completely locked down and operational units, manufacturing units and residential units have been shut down since the morning of May 12 and all people are being subjected to rigorous and intensive testing,” KCNA reported on Sunday.
A day earlier, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the spread of COVID-19 had plunged his country into “great unrest” and called for an all-out war to overcome the outbreak.
Despite the lockdown, Kim and other senior officials attended the funeral of Yang Hyung Soap, the former de facto head of state, during the reign of Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, on Saturday, KCNA reported.
Health authorities have set up more epidemic prevention posts, and provided emergency medical care to hospitals and clinics, while senior officials donated reserve drugs, KCNA reported.
The report said that a “large proportion” of deaths were due to “carelessness in taking medication due to lack of knowledge and understanding of the” omicon variant virus infection disease and its proper treatment. “
On Saturday night, Korean Central Television broadcast the fever treatment. A doctor at Kimmenu Hospital advised to “gargle with salt water” and take various medicines for high temperature, headache and muscle and joint pain.
KCNA also recommended drinking Lapis japonica tea or willow leaf tea three times a day yesterday.
At least 296,180 people came down with fever symptoms and 15 more died as of Sunday, the outlet said.
Experts say North Korea appears to lack the ability to examine those thousands of symptomatic patients. KCNA did not report how many of the suspected cases tested positive for COVID-19.
In all, North Korea reported 820,620 suspected cases, with 324,550 still receiving medical treatment, KCNA reported.
North Korea has not previously claimed any confirmed cases of the virus and, according to the World Health Organization, is one of only two countries in the world that has yet to launch a COVID vaccine campaign.
Its self-imposed lockdowns have slowed trade and raised concerns about food shortages or other difficulties, aid agencies say.