State media reports Friday said a “fever” has been spreading “explosively” since late April, leaving six dead, 350,000 sickened and 187,800 quarantined. They said one of the dead had been diagnosed with the omicron variant.
Before acknowledging its first domestic COVID-19 cases, North Korea spent 2 1/2 years rejecting outside offers of vaccines and steadfastly claiming that its superior socialist system was protecting its 26 million people from “a malicious virus” that had killed millions around the world, AP reports.
Its surprise admission this week has left many outsiders wondering just how bad things really are, and there’s rising worry that it could cause a major humanitarian crisis in a country with one of the world’s worst public medical infrastructures.
Because the North has been shut up tight since early 2020, with no reporters, aid workers or diplomats regularly going in, reading the situation is something of a guessing game, and the North has been vague with its state media descriptions of widespread fevers. But there are some worrying facts: no reported vaccines, very limited testing capability, a terrible medical system and widespread poverty.
Without immediate outside aid shipments, some experts say North Korea could face massive fatality and infection rates. Others, however, say North Korea is using its admission of an outbreak to rally the public against the virus and boost its control of its people.
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