Saturday August 13, 2022

N Korea says ‘all recovered’ after Covid outbreak

August 06, 2022

SEOUL: North Korea reported zero fever cases on Friday for a seventh straight day, state media said, adding that everyone who had fallen sick since the country confirmed its first Covid-19 infections had recovered.

The isolated country, which has maintained a rigid coronavirus blockade since the start of the pandemic, announced an Omicron outbreak in the capital Pyongyang in May and activated a "maximum emergency epidemic prevention system".

State media have meticulously reported the official number of cases, deaths, treatments and recoveries every day since, with leader Kim Jong Un putting himself front and centre of the government’s response. North Korea refers to "fever patients" rather than "Covid patients" in case reports, apparently due to a lack of testing capacity.

"No new fever cases were reported during the past week and all those receiving treatment have recovered across the country," the official KCNA reported on Friday. "The overall anti-epidemic situation of the DPRK has entered a definite phase of stability," the report added. The country will continue to strengthen its monitoring of "new Covid-19 sub-variants and various diseases" and can still mobilise medical workers "in case of a crisis", it added.

North Korea has recorded nearly 4.8 million infections since late April with just 74 deaths for an official fatality rate of 0.002 percent, KCNA has reported. The country has one of the world’s worst healthcare systems, with poorly equipped hospitals, few intensive care units, and no Covid-19 treatment drugs or vaccines, experts say.

In contrast, South Korea -- with its advanced healthcare systems and highly vaccinated population -- has a reported Covid fatality rate of 0.12 percent, according to official data. "It is hard to believe any country if they say that the confirmed number of patients has suddenly gone to zero," Ahn Chan-il, a North Korean studies scholar, said.