North Korea confirms 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19

  • FILE - An employee of the Kyonghung Foodstuff General Store disinfects the showroom countertops in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Before acknowledging domestic COVID-19 cases, Thursday, May 12, 2022, North Korea spent 2 1/2 years rejecting outside offers of vaccines and steadfastly claiming that its superior socialist system was protecting its 26 million people from “a malicious virus” that had killed millions around the world. (AP Photo/Cha Song Ho, File)

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea says 21 people died and 174,440 people were newly found with fever symptoms on Friday alone as the country scrambles to slow the spread of COVID-19 across its unvaccinated population.

North Korea said Saturday 27 people have died and 524,440 fell ill amid a rapid spread of fever since late April. It said 280,810 people remain in quarantine. State media didn’t specifically say how many of the fever cases and deaths were confirmed as COVID-19 cases.

The country imposed nationwide lockdowns on Thursday after confirming its first COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic.

State media said tests of virus samples collected Sunday from an unspecified number of people with fevers in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, confirmed they were infected with the omicron variant. The country has so far officially confirmed one death as linked to an omicron infection.

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