North Korea: More than a million Covid cases feared
BBC- North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has lambasted health officials and ordered the army to help distribute medicine, as a wave of Covid cases sweeps through the country.
More than a million people have now been sickened by what Pyongyang is calling a “fever”, state media said.
Some 50 people have died, but it’s unclear how many of those suspected cases tested positive for Covid.
North Korea has only limited testing capacity, so few cases are confirmed.
North Koreans are likely to be especially vulnerable to the virus due to lack of vaccinations and a poor healthcare system. A nationwide lockdown is in place in the reclusive country.
State media said Mr Kim led an emergency politburo meeting at the weekend where he accused officials of bungling the distribution of the national medicine reserves.
He ordered that the “powerful forces” of the army’s medical corps step in to “immediately stabilise the supply of medicines in Pyongyang City”.
The country announced its first confirmed Covid cases last week – although experts believe the virus has likely been circulating for some time.
Mr Kim has imposed “maximum emergency” virus controls, including lockdowns and gathering restrictions in workplaces.
The international community offered to supply North Korea with millions of AstraZeneca and Chinese-made jabs last year, but Pyongyang claimed it had controlled Covid by sealing its borders early in January 2020.
North Korea shares land borders with South Korea and China, which have both battled outbreaks. China is now struggling to contain an Omicron wave with lockdowns in its biggest cities.
South Korea has offered to send unlimited aid to the North if requested, including vaccine doses, health workers, and medical equipment.
On Saturday Mr Kim called the rapidly spreading Covid-19 outbreak a “great disaster”.
“The spread of the malignant epidemic is [the greatest] turmoil to fall on our country since the founding,” the official KCNA news agency quoted him as saying.
As well as the direct health impact, fears have been raised for food production in North Korea. It suffered a brutal famine during the 1990s, and today the World Food Programme estimates that 11 million of the country’s 25 million people are undernourished.
If agricultural workers are unable to tend the fields, analysts say, the implications are extremely serious.
Experts perplexed over number of long COVID cases
Public health experts are divided over how many people are getting long COVID-19, a potentially debilitating condition that comes after a patient has recovered from the coronavirus.
Ill effects from the condition can include fatigue, pain, neurological issues and even changes in mental health.
Initially, public health officials believed that only a small minority of people would suffer from long COVID-19. But some studies now indicate a majority of those infected with the coronavirus are experiencing long COVID-19 symptoms,
However, others have estimated that COVID long haulers are still in the minority.
It’s generally believed that people who developed severe cases of COVID-19 are more likely to have long COVID-19, but even those who had asymptomatic cases have reported lingering after-effects months after testing negative. One problem in figuring out how many people get long COVID-19 is defining it.
Apart from the wide range of symptoms, there is still debate over when a person is considered to have long COVID-19. Some health care authorities consider a patient to have the condition if symptoms persist after three to six weeks, while other think it should be considered on a longer basis.
WORLD COVID STATS
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= all cases have recovered from the infection