NORTH KOREA, NEW ZEALAND: North Korea said on Sunday a total of 42 people had died as the country began its fourth day under a nationwide lockdown aimed at stopping the impoverished country’s first confirmed COVID-19 outbreak.
North Korea’s admission on Thursday that it is battling an “explosive” COVID-19 outbreak has raised concerns that the virus could devastate a country with an under-resourced health system, limited testing capabilities and no vaccine programme.
State news agency KCNA said the country was taking “swift state emergency measures” to control the epidemic, but there is no sign that Pyongyang was moving to accept international offers of vaccines.
Overall North Korea has reported 820,620 suspected cases, with 324,550 still under medical treatment, KCNA said.
“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 since the morning of May 12 and strict and intensive examination of all the people is being conducted,” KCNA reported on Sunday.
A day earlier North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the spread of COVID-19 had thrust his country into “great turmoil” and called for an all-out battle to overcome the outbreak.
Kim, who said he was donating some of his private medicine supplies to help the anti-virus campaign called for officials to take lessons from the successful pandemic responses of other nations and picked an example in China, the North’s major ally.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has overseen her country’s world-leading response to the coronavirus pandemic, has tested positive for Covid-19, her office announced today. Ardern’s symptoms are moderate and she will isolate at home for seven days, the government said in a statement. – THE HINDUSTAN TIMES ,THE MALAY MAIN