Covid-19: North Korea reports no ‘fever’ cases for first time since May

North Korea reported no new “fever” cases for the first time since it acknowledged its first domestic Covid-19 outbreak and imposed more draconian restrictions on its 26 million people in May.

there have been widespread doubts about the accuracy of North Korean statistics, as the number of reported deaths is too low and daily cases of “fever” have been falling sharply recently.

In a country short of test kits, only a subset of 4.8 million fever patients have been identified as confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Some experts say North Korea may have manipulated the rate of sickness and death to help leader Kim Jong-un maintain absolute control amid growing economic hardship.

The Northern Anti-Epidemic Center reported through state media that it had detected fever zero patients in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in the country to about 4.8 million.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits the Pyongyang Liberation War Martyrs’ Cemetery (Korea Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

The number of deaths is still at 74 and the death rate is 0.0016%, which would be the lowest in the world if it were true.

Despite a reported lack of cases, it is unclear if North Korea will officially declare a victory over Covid-19 and lift pandemic-related restrictions, and how soon, as experts say it could face a resurgence of the virus later this year, as will many other countries.

North Korean state media recently said they are strengthening and upgrading their anti-epidemic systems to protect against sub-variants of the coronavirus and other diseases, such as monkeypox, that are found in other countries.

“The organizational strength and unity inherent only in (North Korea) society is fully displayed in the struggle to win the emergency anti-epidemic campaign,” the official Korea Central News Agency said on Saturday.

North Korea’s claimed lack of cases may be symbolic in its efforts to build Kim’s image as a leader who has contained the outbreak much faster than other countries.

Kim will need such powers to garner more public support to overcome economic hardship caused by pandemic border closures, UN sanctions and his own mismanagement, observers say.

“In North Korea, public health and politics cannot be separated from each other, and this aspect has resurfaced during the Covid-19 outbreak,” said Ahn Kyung-soo, head of DPRKHEALTH.ORG, a health website. problems in North Korea.

In fact, hundreds of thousands of daily cases of fever going to zero in less than three months is something impossible.Professor Lee Ho Yang

“Because they started with data manipulation, they have now ended the outbreak with data manipulation.”

North Korea was not expected to report cases as its daily fever rate has plummeted in recent days – there were three cases on Friday and 11 on Thursday – from a peak of about 400,000 a day in May.

“In fact, hundreds of thousands of daily cases of fever going to zero in less than three months is something impossible,” said Lee Yo Han, a professor at the Graduate School of Public Health at Aju University in South Korea.

Many outside experts previously feared that the outbreak in the North would be devastating, as most of its inhabitants are believed to be unvaccinated and about 40% are reported to be malnourished.

But now activists and defectors with connections in North Korea say they have never heard of anything like a humanitarian catastrophe happening in the North. They say the country’s outbreak is also likely to have peaked.

In a sign of the outbreak of weakening, North Korea this week held massive public events without masks in its capital, Pyongyang, where thousands of elderly Korean War veterans and others gathered from across the country to celebrate the 69th anniversary of the late 1950s. -53 war.

During the anniversary ceremony, Kim hugged and shook hands with some of the veterans before taking group photos with the other members. According to state media photos, no one was wearing masks.