North Korea claims good progress in fight against Covid, experts disagree

Edited By: Moohita Kaur Garg
Pyongyang, North Korea Updated: Jun 02, 2022, 11:17 PM(IST)

Experts say that because of the low number of vaccines, significant numbers of undernourished people and a lack of facilities to both test and treat cases, the impoverished country should have suffered a far greater number of deaths than reported. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Experts suspect that Pyongyang is underreporting the figures released through state-controlled media, making it difficult for those on the outside to fully assess the situation

North Korea claims that it is making good progress in its fight against the novel coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) however thinks differently. The global health and safety agency has cast doubts on North Koreas claims and said that it believes the situation is getting worse, not better. During a video briefing on Wednesday, WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan said "We assume the situation is getting worse, not better." He claimed that the WHO had no access to any sensitive information other than the data that were publicly released by state media.

"We have real issues in getting access to the raw data and to the actual situation on the ground," Ryan said,  adding that the WHO is collaborating with neighbours such as South Korea and China to get a better picture.

Watch | Covid-19 situation in North Korea is 'getting worse, not better', says WHO

The state media reports suggest that the COVID-19 wave has abated, however, there is an absence of independent data for the nation. About two weeks ago the nation's tally of people with 'fever' topped 390,000.

North Korea is yet to directly confirm how many people have tested positive for the coronavirus, choosing to instead report a number of people with 'fever'. 

Also read | COVID-19: Experts express disbelief as North Korea reports unbelievable fatality rate of 0.002%

Experts suspect that Pyongyang is underreporting the figures released through state-controlled media, making it difficult for those on the outside to fully assess the situation.

The country's secrecy makes it extremely improbable that anyone on the outside would be able to ascertain the full scope of the outbreak. It's has been suggested that the government exaggerated the outbreak to keep control of the country's 26 million people.

Experts say that because of the low number of vaccines, significant numbers of undernourished people and a lack of facilities to both test and treat cases, the impoverished country should have suffered a far greater number of deaths than reported.

Also read | ​​​​​​​North Korea lifts Covid lockdown amid ‘stable’ virus situation, according to media

North Korea's state news agency KCNA reported on Thursday that 96,610 more persons developed a 'fever' during its statewide lockdown aimed at managing the impoverished country's first verified COVID-19 epidemic. The media, however, made no mention of any additional deaths.

Some analysts believe that North Korea is purposefully underreporting casualties in order to protect its leader, Kim Jong Un, at all costs.

(With inputs from agencies)

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