DPRK reports first death of COVID-19 amid 'explosive' spread of fever

In this file photo taken on March 18, 2022 employees spray disinfectant and wipe surfaces as part of preventative measures against the Covid-19 coronavirus at the Pyongyang Children's Department Store in Pyongyan.(Photo: AFP)

Pyongyang on Friday disclosed that six people who showed fever symptoms have died, among which one death confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, state media said, after announcing an "explosive" spread of "a fever whose cause couldn't be identified" since late April.

Around 18,000 people who showed fever-related symptoms were reported on Thursday, Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) official KCNA said. The country has now recorded over 350,000 who showed signs of that fever, "at least 162,200 out of them were healed completely," KCNA read.

DPRK leader Kim Jong Un visited the country's anti-virus command center on Thursday, the same day he declared a "gravest state of emergency" at a politburo meeting.

"He (Kim) called on all the cities and counties of the country to thoroughly lock down their areas," read KCNA's report at the meeting. According to the released video, Kim, for the first time, appeared in public wearing a mask as he presided over the meeting.

During his Thursday inspection, Kim criticized officials for failing to control the spread of COVID-19, pointing out that the outbreak "shows that there is a vulnerable point in the epidemic prevention system."

The leader also urged health officials to actively isolate and treat people with fevers and make it a top priority. He also called for scientific treatment methods and tactics "at a lightning tempo" and bolstering measures to supply medication.

"It is the most important challenge and supreme tasks facing our Party to reverse the immediate public health crisis situation at an early date, restore the stability of epidemic prevention and protect the health and the well-being of our people," Kim was quoted by KCNA.