Almost 10% of North Korean population suffers from COVID outbreak | CBC News:

North Korea said on Friday that nearly 10 percent of its 26 million people had fallen ill and 65 had died in the wake of its first outbreak of COVID-19 as foreign experts questioned the validity of its reported deaths and feared a possible humanitarian crisis.

after: accepting last week’s Omicron outbreak After insisting for more than two years that it is free of the coronavirus, North Korea says that since the end of April, the unknown fever has been spreading explosively throughout the country. Its anti-epidemic center publishes fever data every morning through the state media, but it does not include any COVID-19 numbers.

Some observers say North Korea may have had to accept the outbreak of COVID-19 because it failed to hide the highly contagious viral spread among its people and to suffer possible public outrage over leader Kim Jong Un.

They say North Korean authorities are reporting fewer deaths in an attempt to show that the response to the epidemic is effective, while the country does not have test kits to detect large numbers of viruses.

“It’s true that there was a hole in the two-and-a-half-year-old epidemic,” said Kwak Gil Soup, head of One Korea Center, a website specializing in North Korea. “But there is a saying that North Korea is a ‘theatrical state,’ I think they are massaging COVID-19 statistics.”

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Kwak said North Korea was probably using the outbreak in part as a propaganda tool to show that it was overcoming the epidemic under Kim.

But the country has a “plan B” and “plan C” to seek Chinese և other foreign aid if the epidemic gets out of control, he said.

WATCH |: North Korea’s COVID fight.

The number of COVID-19 cases in North Korea is close to 2 million

North Korea has reported 262,270 cases of people with suspected symptoms of COVID-19 as its outbreak approaches nearly two million.

As many as 263,370 people had fever symptoms and two died of a fever on Friday, bringing the total number of febrile cases to 2.24 million and the death toll to 65. They say 754,810 people remain in quarantine, according to the official Korea Central News Agency.

The epidemic probably stemmed from the April 25 military parade in Pyongyang, which Kim organized to demonstrate her new missiles and loyal troops. The parade, along with other festivals marking the anniversary of the founding of the North Korean army, invited tens of thousands of people, soldiers from Pyongyang and other parts of the country, to return home after the events.

On Thursday, South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers that “a significant proportion” of cases of fever reported by North Korea involved people with waterborne illnesses such as measles, typhoid and whooping cough.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) estimates that these diseases have already spread to North Korea even before the outbreak of COVID-19, according to Ha Tae-keung, a lawmaker who attended a private NIS briefing.

Ha quotes the NIS as saying that waterborne diseases are spreading due to the North’s previous long-running anti-epidemic measures due to a lack of medicine.

People at Seoul Railway Station watch a report of a COVID-19 outbreak in North Korea earlier this week. (Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters)

The real numbers are not clear

The NIS said it did not know exactly what percentage of coronavirus cases were. “He said North Korea does not have coronavirus diagnostic kits, but it seems to have enough thermometers.”

The NSS has a disgraceful record of confirming developments in North Korea. Some civilian medical experts have previously said that they believe that most of the reported cases of fever in North Korea are COVID-19.

Earlier this week, state health officials said on state television that the government had identified 168 COVID-19 cases as of Monday, when the country’s fever cases had already exceeded one million. There have been no updates on the Northern virus cases since then.

North Korea’s public health system remains dilapidated, experts say, and the country could face a massive epidemic if it does not receive foreign aid. They say the country’s increased restrictions on movement and quarantine rules could worsen food insecurity.

NIS says North Korea intends to tackle the epidemic with the support of its main ally China, according to Haim Kim Byong-ki, another lawmaker who was informed by the intelligence service.

During an antivirus meeting on Saturday, Kim said that her country is facing “big shocks”. և which officials should study how China և other countries have dealt with the epidemic.

Some media outlets have reported that North Korea has already sent planes to China to bring back ambulances earlier this week, but the South Korean government has said it cannot confirm the reports.

South Korea said the United States had offered to send vaccines, drugs and other medical supplies to North Korea, but North Korea had not responded.

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