Covid-19 outbreak in North Korea worrying for new variants, says WHO

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, WHO's emergencies director Mike Ryan said, “Certainly it's worrying if countries are not using the tools that are now available,” as he was asked a question regarding the Covid-19 crisis in North Korea.
Railway station staff disinfecting Pyongyang station premises as a prevention measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus.(KCNA via KNS / AFP)
Railway station staff disinfecting Pyongyang station premises as a prevention measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus.(KCNA via KNS / AFP)
Published on May 18, 2022 08:54 AM IST
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Written by Harshit Sabarwal | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, New Delhi

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the Covid-19 outbreak in North Korea is worrying for new variants of the virus, as the country is battling a rapid spread of a mysterious fever since late April.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, WHO's emergencies director Mike Ryan said, “Certainly it's worrying if countries are not using the tools that are now available,” as he was asked a question regarding the Covid-19 crisis in North Korea, news agency Reuters reported.

Ryan added that the WHO has repeatedly said that there is always a higher risk of new variants emerging where there is an unchecked transmission.

Apart from Ryan, WHO's director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged North Korea to share data and information regarding the pandemic.

"WHO is deeply concerned at the risk of further spread of Covid-19 in the country particularly because the population is unvaccinated and many have underlying conditions putting them at risk of severe disease and death," Ghebreyesus told reporters on Tuesday.

Also Read| Amid Covid outbreak, North Korea's Kim deploys army to battle ‘fever’: 5 points

He also added that the WHO offered to provide technical support and supplies, tests, medicines and vaccines to help North Korea stem the spread of Covid-19.

On Wednesday, the country reported 232,880 more cases of the mysterious fever and six more deaths, taking the infection tally and toll to over 1.7 million and 62 respectively.

North Korean authorities have said that they have been able to confirm only a small number of Covid-19 cases acknowledging an Omicron variant outbreak last week. However, experts outside have pointed out that most of this mysterious fever could be Covid-19, news agency AP reported.

Meanwhile, North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong Un accused officials of “immaturity” and “slackness” in handling the virus across the country. He urged officials to strengthen Covid-19 controls at workplaces and make redoubled efforts to improve the supply of daily necessities and stabilise living conditions, the Korean Central News Agency said on Wednesday.

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