North Korea reported no new fever cases on Saturday for the first time since its acknowledgement of a COVID-19 outbreak in the isolated country in mid-May, state-run media reported. North Korea said earlier this month it was on a path to “finally defuse” its first publicly declared coronavirus crisis even as Asian neighbours experience a resurgence in infections driven by Omicron subvariants.
The official KCNA news agency said 99.99% of its 4.77 million fever patients since late April have fully recovered, but because of an apparent lack of testing, it has not released any figures on people who tested positive for the virus. Infectious disease experts have cast doubts on North Korea’s claims, with the World Health Organization saying last month it believed the situation was getting worse, not better, amid an absence of independent data.
KCNA said a rapid mobile treatment force is still on high alert and efforts are under way to “detect and stamp out the epidemic” until the last patient is fully recovered. The state media said 204 fever patients were under treatment as of Friday. Pyongyang’s possible declaration of victory against COVID-19 could be a prelude to restoring trade long hampered by the pandemic, North Korea analysts said.
Trade volume plunged 17.3% to $710 million last year amid a strict closure of borders. North Korea temporarily resumed freight train operations with China early this year, but suspended them again in April over heightened fears of the coronavirus spreading.
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