North Korea reports 15 deaths and nearly 300,000 new ‘fever’ cases

North Korea says a total of 42 people have died as the country began its fourth day under a nationwide lockdown.

At least 296,180 more people came down with fever symptoms, and 15 more had died as of Sunday, according to State news agency KCNA.

The country was taking “swift state emergency measures” to control the epidemic, but according to reports, there is no sign that Pyongyang was moving to accept international offers of vaccines.

“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.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said Saturday the spread of the coronavirus has plunged the country into “great turmoil,” calling for an all-out battle to overcome the epidemiological crisis.

“The spread of the malignant epidemic is a great turmoil to fall on our country since the founding,” Kim told an emergency meeting of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party.

“But if we don’t lose focus in implementing epidemic policy and maintain strong organization power and control based on single-minded unity of the party and the people and strengthen our epidemic battle, we can more than overcome the crisis.”

According to KCNA reports, the country’s health authorities set up more epidemic prevention posts and urgently transported medical supplies to hospitals and clinics.

A “large proportion” of the deaths have been caused by people being “careless in taking drugs due to the lack of knowledge and understanding of stealth Omicron variant virus infection disease and its correct treatment method,” the report said.

Overall, North Korea has reported 820,620 suspected cases, with 324,550 still under medical treatment, KCNA said.

The country had reported no cases since the start of the pandemic two years ago, which raised the possibility of a lack of rigorous testing or treatment campaign in the country. It is one of only two countries in the world that have yet to begin a COVID vaccination campaign, according to the World Health Organization.

The outbreak could also deepen an already dire food situation in the country.

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