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North Korea's Surge in Coronavirus Cases

It has been reported that North Korea has had a significant and unexpected surge in Coronavirus cases, with 21 deaths reported on Saturday, May 14th 2022, and over 524,000 people displaying COVID-like symptoms in the last month. A massive jump from the zero reported cases since the pandemic started.

North Korea’s approach to covid has been strict and the country has been dubbed the “hermit nation” due to the rapid and tight sealing of its borders. In further attempts to keep the nation covid-secure, Mr. Kim cut off relations with China at the end of 2020 and refused to allow North Korean teams to compete at the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics due to the ongoing threat of covid infection. 


Although it is uncertain how covid managed to penetrate the country’s border, the number of people infected is nothing more than an estimate based on “fever cases” due to North Korea’s limited testing capacity. Therefore, the true figure could be far higher than we are led to believe. This level of infection and uncertainty is highly alarming for a country with such a fragile public health system and largely unvaccinated population (apart from a select few elites) and could result in an enormous number of deaths. 

While it has not been confirmed whether or not North Korea has had access to the number of vaccines required to protect its people from coronavirus, the country was eligible for the vaccine sharing programme, Covax. However, the leader rejected millions of doses of AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccine and failed to arrange shipments of the vaccination. 

While North Korea is vague about the cause of the outbreak, Mr. Kim has declared the rise in cases a “national major emergency”. On Thursday, all cities were placed into lockdown and the country has agreed to implement anti-epidemic measures in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus. Such measures include proactively conducting medical check-ups to locate those who are ill and isolating them until they are no longer infectious. 


If North Korea are unable to stop the expeditious spread of the coronavirus, the implications will be catastrophic. 

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