North Korea’s Covid cases top 2 million amid global concern over regime’s pandemic plan | North Korea

Experts have cast doubt on North Korea’s claim that it is doing “good results” in its battle against a Covid-19 outbreak, with the number of people showing symptoms of the virus surging past 2 million.

The regime on Friday reported 263,370 new fever cases and two deaths, bringing the total number of cases to 2.24 million, including 65 deaths, according to the official KCNA news agency.

He did not say how many of those cases had tested positive for Covid, but said the country was achieving “good results” in its battle against the virus.

Rising cases and a lack of medical resources and vaccines have led the UN human rights agency to warn of ‘devastating’ consequences for Korea’s 25 million people North, and World Health Organization officials fear that uncontrolled spread could lead to new, more deadly variants.

Government-reported fever cases had declined in the capital Pyongyang but increased in rural provinces. The figures are unlikely to be entirely accurate, either due to error or deliberate manipulation, said Martyn Williams, a researcher at US watchdog 38 North. “I doubt they portray the exact image,” he said on Twitter.

Some North Korean observers believe the regime was forced to acknowledge the Covid-19 outbreak last week because trying to cover up the spread of the virus would have been futile and could have fueled public discontent with the leader. of the country, Kim Jong-un.

Instead, they believe North Korean authorities are underreporting deaths to prove their response has been effective.

“It is true that there was a hole in his two-and-a-half-year fight against the pandemic,” said Kwak Gil Sup, head of One Korea Center, a website specializing in North Korean affairs. “But there’s a saying that North Korea is ‘a theater state’ and I think they’re massaging the Covid-19 stats.”

While North Korea is using the outbreak partly as a propaganda tool to portray Kim’s leadership in a favorable light, it has “a plan B” and “a plan C” to seek Chinese and foreign aid if the pandemic is spiraling out of control, Kwak said.

Kee Park, a global health specialist at Harvard Medical School who has worked on health care projects in North Korea, said earlier that the number of new cases should start to slow due to strengthened preventive measures. such as travel restrictions and keeping workers separated into groups according to their occupations.

But, Park said, North Korea will struggle to provide treatment for the already large number of people with Covid-19, adding that deaths could reach tens of thousands.

Despite the workload, the isolated country said farming was going on, factories were working and it was planning a state funeral for a former general.

“Even under the peak epidemic prevention emergency, normal production is maintained in key industrial sectors and large-scale construction projects are pushed forward unabated,” KCNA said on Friday. “Good results are regularly reported in the ongoing anti-epidemic warfare.”

North Korea said on Wednesday the country’s virus outbreak was taking a “favorable turn”, although South Korean officials say it’s difficult to draw a conclusion because it’s unclear how North Korea calculates the number of patients with fever and Covid.

South Korea and the United States have both offered to help North Korea fight the virus, including sending aid, but have not received a response, the adviser said this week. Seoul National Security Deputy.

Teresa H. Sadler