North Korea reveals first Covid death, ‘explosive’ fever spread

North Korea on Friday revealed a widespread outbreak of an unknown fever that spread “explosively” across the country since the end of April, resulting in 350,000 cases and six deaths,  including one that tested positive for Covid-19. 

Kim Jong Un, who locked down the country on Thursday after confirming the country’s first Covid case, called for more stringent measures to stop the virus, according to state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). On Thursday alone, North Korea had 18,000 new cases of fever and as many as 187,800 people are being isolated and treated, it said. 

“It is the most important challenge and supreme tasks facing our party to reverse the immediate public health crisis situation at an early date, restore the stability of epidemic prevention and protect the health and wellbeing of our people,” Kim said. 

Of the 350,000 cases so far, at least 162,200 were “healed completely,” the report added. 

The revelation on Friday marks a sharp escalation after North Korea acknowledged its first Covid case a day earlier. While public health experts long doubted that North Korea managed to keep out the coronavirus that has swept the world since early 2020, Kim’s move this week to publicly acknowledge the outbreak suggests cases are too widespread for authorities to control. Bloomberg News