North Korea reports suspected Covid cases on China border
The area where the suspected cases were found was “immediately locked down,” state news agency KCNA reported Tuesday.
Citing the country’s State Emergency Epidemic Prevention Headquarters, KCNA said four “fever cases suspected of being infected with malignant epidemic occurred at a unit in Ryanggang province on August 23.”
It acknowledged its first confirmed cases of Covid-19 in May, when it reported what it referred to as an “explosive” outbreak and a “major national emergency”.
However, many experts — including those at the World Health Organization — have cast doubts on its claims.
One source of skepticism is its death rate, which to many experts appears unusually low especially given the vast majority of its people are thought to be unvaccinated. The country of 25 million has officially reported 74 deaths, with KCNA previously attributing this to what it called an “unprecedented miracle.”
North Korea has also attributed its claimed successes to its use of lockdowns, intensive medical checks, and what Kim called the “advantageous Korean-style socialist system.”
It has also hailed its use of daily PCR tests on water collected in border areas and claimed to have developed new methods to detect the virus and other diseases including monkeypox, according to Reuters.
In reporting the latest suspected cases, KCNA emphasized that there had been “no persons infected with the malignant epidemic since the spread of malignant virus was exterminated in the country.”
It said anti-epidemic teams had been mobilized to investigate the cases in the latest “fever outbreak.”
The absence of independent data in the country means CNN can’t verify Pyongyang’s claims.
Some analysts have claimed that North Korea has used the pandemic as an excuse to tighten social controls; others have suggested its declaration of victory over the virus may clear the way for it to conduct its first nuclear weapon test since 2017.