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(2nd LD) N. Korea's suspected COVID-19 cases below 40,000: state media

All News 15:12 June 13, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with comments from unification ministry in paras 6-7)
By Yi Wonju

SEOUL, June 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's new suspected COVID-19 cases dropped to below 40,000, its state media said Monday.

More than 36,710 people showed symptoms of fever over a 24-hour period until 6 p.m. the previous day, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, citing data from the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters.

The total number of fever cases since late April came to over 4.46 million as of 6 p.m. Sunday, of which more than 4.4 million have recovered, and at least 65,230 are being treated, it added.

It did not provide information on whether additional deaths have been reported. The death toll stood at 72 as of June 11, with a fatality rate of 0.002 percent.

The country's daily fever tally has been on a downward trend after peaking at over 392,920 on May 15.

Quarantine officials spray disinfectant at Pyongyang International Airport in the North Korean capital amid the highest-level alert on the coronavirus, in this undated photo released by the North's Korean Central News Agency on June 10, 2022. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

South Korea's unification ministry noted the recent downward trend in new fever cases and said the North's virus situation could be determined as improving in appearance when considering just its official announcements.

"If this trend of announcements from North Korea continues, there is a possibility that it could announce sometime in June that its coronavirus crisis has been resolved," the ministry's spokesperson Cho Joong-hoon told a press briefing.

The North is currently operating a "telemedical service" to provide assistance in remote areas, while over 59,600 doctors in charge of households and medical workers are working to ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment of people with fever, according to the KCNA.

It also said "online reeducation and technical course systems" are being improved in cooperation with educational institutions to help public health officials acquire practical knowledge.

Observers here have raised concerns that the virus outbreak could further worsen the impoverished nation's fragile economy and deepen its chronic food shortage problem among many of the 25 million residents nationwide.

On May 12, North Korea disclosed its first COVID-19 case after claiming to be coronavirus-free for over two years.

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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