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What we know about North Korea’s Covid outbreak

(CNN) - North Korea's first-reported Covid-19 outbreak is the "greatest turmoil" to befall the country since its founding more than 70 years ago, according to its leader Kim Jong Un, as the isolated and impoverished nation scrambles to curb the spread of a highly transmissible virus that risks causing a major humanitarian crisis.

North Korea reported 15 more deaths and 296,180 new "fever cases" between Friday and Saturday evening, according to state media KCNA, though it did not specify how many of the deaths and cases were linked to Covid, likely due to the country's extremely limited testing capacity.

The climbing death toll and surging "fever cases" come after North Korea said Thursday it had identified its first ever case of Covid-19 -- an alarming development for a country with one of the world's most fragile public health systems and a largely unvaccinated population.

But given the opaque nature of the regime and the country's isolation from the world -- a trend that has only exacerbated since the pandemic -- it is extremely difficult to assess the real situation on the ground. 

Foreign diplomats and aid workers had fled North Korea en masse in 2021 due to shortages of goods and "unprecedented" restrictions on daily life, making it all the more impossible to obtain information from the country other than through official state media.

But North Korean state media reports have been vague, and many important questions remain unanswered, including the country's vaccine coverage and the lockdown's impact on the livelihood of its 25 million people.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Arlette Yousif

Arlette Yousif joined KYMA in November 2020 as a Multi Media Journalist. She holds a BA in Journalism with a minor in Film.

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