World Health Organisation says Covid-19 situation in North Korea likely deteriorating

PHOTO: Flickr/Janne Wittoeck

The World Health Organisation says it has received no update on the Covid-19 situation in North Korea, but can only assume it’s getting worse. This contradicts claims from Pyongyang that the country is making “progress” against the virus. According to an AFP report, North Korea confirmed its first Covid-19 infections on May 12. However, last week, state media announced that everything was under control and cases were falling.

However, Michael Ryan, emergencies director with the WHO, has cast doubt on the claims. Ryan says the WHO can only assume the situation is deteriorating, saying North Korea has only provided very limited information.

“We assume that the situation is getting worse, not better. Right now, we are not in a position to make an adequate risk assessment of the situation on the ground.”

According to Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s infectious diseases specialist, North Korea has reported over 3 million suspected Covid-19 infections, which officials have described as cases of “fever”. However, despite the country having one of the world’s worst healthcare systems, the state-run Korean Central News Agency says over 95% of patients have recovered.

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Pyongyang has also rebuffed repeat offers of vaccines from the WHO, despite none of its 25-million population being inoculated against the virus. Ryan says it’s vital to bring the Covid-19 situation in North Korea under control, for everyone’ sake.

“We have offered assistance on multiple occasions. We have offered vaccines on 3 separate occasions. We continue to offer.”

He goes on to say the UN health agency is working with China and South Korea in a bid to get aid into North Korea. Ryan says the danger in allowing the virus to spread in a rampant, uncontrolled manner is the risk of new, potentially more dangerous, variants being created.

“We do not wish to see intense transmission of this disease in a mainly susceptible population, in a health system that has already weakened. This is not good for the people (of North Korea). This is not good for the region. This is not good for the world.”


World News

Maya Taylor

A seasoned writer, with a degree in Creative Writing. Over ten years' experience in producing blog and magazine articles, news reports and website content.

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