According to official state media, North Korea has revealed an “explosive” Covid-19 breakout that has killed six people and infected over 187,000, raising worries of an upcoming and fatal pandemic in the isolated country. Even though specialists believe the virus has been present in the country for some time, the first cases were just confirmed on Thursday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters this Thursday and stated the increasing outbreak meant the country’s epidemic prevention system had reached a “vulnerable level” and ordered a national lockdown.
“It is the most important challenge and the supreme task facing our party to reverse the immediate public health crisis situation” Kim had stated, according to KCNA.
Kim called for scientific treatment approaches as well as actively isolating and treating those with fevers. The virus’s quick spread emphasizes the risk of a serious disaster in a country that lacks medical resources and has declined help for vaccinations from the COVAX global sharing program and China, meanwhile closing its borders.
“With the first official news of a Covid-19 outbreak in the country, continuing on this path could cost many lives and would be an unconscionable dereliction of upholding the right to health” Amnesty International East Asia Researcher Boram Jang said in a statement regarding the consequences of the lack of medical resources in North Korea.
Food shortages and malnutrition have left many North Koreans in poor health conditions, making it more difficult for their immune systems to handle this outbreak.
In a 2019 research, North Korea was placed 193rd out of 195 countries in terms of its ability to deal with a healthcare crisis like the one it’s facing right now.