North Korea on Saturday said it had recorded no new “fever” cases even as Asian neighbors experience a resurgence in coronavirus infections driven by omicron subvariants.
“There were no new fever patients reported” over a 24-hour period from Thursday evening, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said.
Since then, the country has reported more than 4.77 million “fever” cases, but authorities have not revealed how many patients tested positive for the coronavirus.
North Korea’s latest report on the death toll among fever patients stood at 74 as of July 5, a mortality rate of 0.0016% that would be the world’s lowest, if true.
Pyongyang looks set to declare coronavirus victory
The claim of zero cases would boost Kim Jong Un’s image as a leader who has controlled the outbreak faster than other countries.
“The organizational power and unity unique to the society is fully displayed in the struggle to bring forward a victory in the emergency anti-epidemic campaign by fully executing the anti-epidemic policies of the party and the state,” the official Korean Central News Agency said.
The daily fever caseload has been nosediving in recent days. There were three reported cases on Friday and 11 on Thursday, from a peak of about 400,000 a day in May.
The North said in late May it started seeing “progress” in controlling the outbreak but experts have cast doubts on the claim, citing the country’s crumbling health infrastructure and unvaccinated population.
Last month, the World Health Organization said the situation could be worsening.
But on Wednesday, the country held a large mask-free public event honoring veterans of the 1950-53 Korean war just days after saying its coronavirus crisis was nearly over. Kim hugged and exchanged handshakes with some veterans before he took group photos with other participants.
North Korea has never confirmed how many people have tested positive for COVID-19, apparently lacking testing supplies.
It has not vaccinated any of its roughly 25 million people, having rejected jabs offered by the World Health Organization.
lo/sri (AFP, AP, Reuters)