SEOUL: North Korea reported more than 200,000 new patients suffering from fever for a fifth consecutive day as the country fights its first confirmed coronavirus outbreak, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said on Saturday (May 21), citing the North's state broadcaster.
The ongoing COVID-19 wave, declared last week, has fuelled concerns over a lack of vaccines, inadequate medical infrastructure and a potential food crisis in the country of 25 million that has refused outside help and kept its borders shut.
At least 219,030 people showed fever symptoms as of Friday evening, taking the total number of such cases to 2,460,640, the official Korean Central Television (KCTV) reported citing data from the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters, according to Yonhap. The death toll rose by one to 66.
Yonhap did not specify how many people had tested positive for the virus, and Reuters could not independently verify the report.
With no national vaccination campaign and limited testing capability, the daily data released by state media could be underreported, and it may be difficult to assess the scale of the COVID-19 wave, experts have said.
The UN human rights agency has warned of "devastating" consequences for its 25 million people, while World Health Organization said an unchecked spread could lead to the emergence of deadlier new variants.