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(LEAD) N. Korea reports 6 COVID-19 deaths amid 'explosive' spread of fever

All News 08:25 May 13, 2022

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; ADDS more info throughout, photos; ADDS byline)
By Yi Wonju

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Friday six people have died from COVID-19 and symptoms of fever were reported among more than 18,000 people nationwide the previous day alone.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited the country's state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters Thursday and examined antivirus efforts, a day after it declared a shift to the "maximum emergency prevention system," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

Since late April, an unknown fever spread "explosively" across the North, affecting 350,000 people, according to the KCNA. It added that 162,200 people have been fully treated so far.

"On May 12 alone, some 18,000 persons with fever occurred nationwide and as of now up to 187,800 people are being isolated and treated," the KCNA said in its English-language report.

The North also reported six COVID-19 deaths, among which one person tested positive for the omicron variant.

During his inspection, Kim criticized officials for failing to ward off the spread of COVID-19, saying, "The simultaneous spread of fever with the capital area as a center shows that there is a vulnerable point in the epidemic prevention system."

He called on all provinces, cities and counties to lock down their areas to prevent the further spread of the "malicious virus."

Kim then urged public health authorities to thoroughly observe all patients with symptoms of fever, set up scientific treatment methods and further strengthen the country's measures for supplying medicine.

"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," he said.

On Thursday, the North announced its first case of COVID-19 and declared the implementation of the "maximum emergency" virus control system. Kim appeared in public wearing a mask for the first time as he presided over a politburo meeting.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (rear) visits the country's national emergency quarantine command center in Pyongyang on May 12, 2022, to inspect antivirus efforts against the coronavirus pandemic, in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency. North Korea said the next day six people have died from COVID-19 and that around 18,000 people have shown symptoms of a fever, in its first release of the number of infection cases and possible cases. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)
This photo, captured from North Korea's Korean Central TV, shows leader Kim Jong-un wearing a face mask as he presides over a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers' Party over the North's first known case of COVID-19 in Pyongyang on May 12, 2022. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

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