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(2nd LD) N. Korea reports no new suspected COVID-19 cases for 3rd day: state media

All News 11:22 August 01, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with Seoul official's remarks in paras 10-12)

SEOUL, Aug. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's new suspected COVID-19 cases remained at zero for the third consecutive day, according to its state media Monday.

No new fever cases were reported 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 anti-epidemic headquarters.

It did not provide information on whether additional deaths have been reported. As of July 5, the death toll stood at 74, with the fatality rate at 0.002 percent.

The total number of fever cases from late April to 6 p.m. Sunday stood at 4.77 million, of which 99.99 percent had recovered and 144 are being treated, it added.

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

In this file photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on May 20, 2022, health officials carry out disinfection work at the Pyongyang Central Zoo. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

The KCNA said health authorities are still implementing strict measures against infectious diseases.

"The state emergency anti-epidemic headquarters ... provides a strict guidance and control over the implementation of relevant instructions and assignments rapidly issued by it to cope with abnormal phenomena that a series of unusual things are found in some areas," it said in an English-language article.

Last month, the North claimed its coronavirus outbreak originated from "alien things" found near the inter-Korean border, alluding to balloon-carried materials sent at the time by North Korean defector groups in South Korea, such as anti-Pyongyang leaflets.

The KCNA said such unusual objects are being seized and inspected, and that health authorities at all levels are working to ensure the safety of the anti-epidemic environment.

The North's claims of no virus cases in recent days have raised expectations for a possible shift in its stringent antivirus policies.

In a regular press briefing, Cho Joong-hoon, spokesperson of Seoul's unification ministry, said it would be difficult to predict any policy change, citing a range of possibilities, including that of the North keeping its quarantine drive to head off a resurgence of virus variants.

Cho reiterated Seoul remains open to health care cooperation with the North.

Pyongyang disclosed its first COVID-19 case on May 12, after claiming to be coronavirus-free for over two years. The North immediately declared a "maximum emergency" control system and implemented nationwide lockdowns.

yunhwanchae@yna.co.kr
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