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(LEAD) N. Korea's new suspected COVID-19 cases stay below 20,000 for 4th day: state media

North Korea 10:59 June 22, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with more info from 6th para; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's new suspected COVID-19 cases remained below 20,000 for the fourth consecutive day, according to its state media Wednesday.

More than 15,260 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.

It did not provide information on whether additional deaths have been reported. As of last Wednesday, the death toll remained at 73, with a fatality rate of 0.002 percent.

The total number of fever cases since late April came to over 4.67 million as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, of which more than 4.64 million have recovered, and at least 26,000 are being treated, it added.

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

Officials disinfect a bus in Pyongyang amid the coronavirus pandemic, in this undated photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency on Feb. 19, 2021. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korean officials are ramping up antivirus efforts to "further increase and steadily maintain the nationwide mass immunity level," the KCNA said.

The North has developed a new technology for producing disinfectants without using salt and taken measures to build a production line for "ultraviolet disinfectors," it added.

Concerns have grown that the virus crisis could worsen the impoverished nation's fragile economy and deepen the chronic food shortages experienced by many of its 25 million people.

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

Last Thursday, the North also reported an outbreak of an "acute enteric epidemic" in its southwestern province of South Hwanghae. It did not specify what the disease is.

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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