21 more dead as North Korea battles COVID-19 outbreak

On Thursday, the country confirmed that people sick with fever in the capital Pyongyang had tested positive for the Omicron coronavirus variant, including one person who had died.

It was the North’s first official confirmation of COVID-19 cases and marked the failure of a two-year-long coronavirus blockade maintained at great economic cost since the start of the pandemic.

State media said that the deaths were “due to negligence, including drug overdose, due to lack of knowledge of scientific treatment methods”.

During the meeting, the country’s top leaders discussed “promptly distributing emergency drugs” and introducing “scientific treatment tactics and treatment methods for different patients, including those with special constitutions”, KCNA reported.

Kim Jong Un said he had “faith that we can overcome this malicious infectious disease within the shortest period possible”, the report added.

North Korea has a crumbling health system – one of the worst in the world – and lacks essential medicines and equipment, experts say.

The country has announced lockdowns nationwide, and Kim said that they would be following China’s model of virus prevention.

“We should take lessons from the experiences and fruitful achievements in preventing virus of the China’s Communist Party and its people,” he said.

China, the world’s only major economy to still maintain a zero-COVID policy, is itself battling multiple Omicron outbreaks — with some major cities, including financial hub Shanghai, under stay-at-home orders.

North Korea has previously turned down offers of COVID-19 vaccines from China, as well as from the World Health Organization’s COVAX scheme.

Source: CNA

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