The latest cases of “fever” found earlier this week in North Korea are linked to the flu virus and not to the resurgence of Covid-19, contrary to what was initially suspected, the agency said on Friday, the official KCNA.
The clarification came a day after Pyongyang announced it was shutting down part of Ryangan province that borders China after four new cases of “fever” were identified there.
“All cases of fever (…) in Ryangan Province were (cases of) influenza”, i.e. influenza launched by the KCNA, based on data from the health authorities.
The patients have “recovered and (recovered) normal temperatures,” the agency added, adding that the preventive detention in the area had been lifted.
The KCNA announced on Thursday that four new cases of “fever” are suspected in connection with the “malignant epidemic” of the coronavirus, two weeks after the country declared a “stunning victory” against Covid-19.
North Korea talks about “sick with a fever” rather than “sick with Covid”, presumably due to a lack of funds to run tests.
The lockdown regime, which has been strictly closing its borders since the start of the pandemic, confirmed an epidemic of the Omicron variant in Pyongyang, its capital, in May.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who himself fell ill during the outbreak, said earlier this month that he had won a “stunning victory” over the virus and ordered almost all restrictions to be lifted, such as the obligation to wear a mask, when no more cases were identified.
The country has recorded nearly 4.8 million “cases of fever” since the end of April, with just 74 deaths, with an official death rate of 0.002%, according to state media. No cases have been identified since July 29.
Experts, including the WHO, are skeptical of Pyongyang’s health statistics and its alleged control of the outbreak.
The country’s hospitals are notoriously under-equipped, with few intensive care units and no treatment or vaccine, although South Korean trade publication NK News reported that the country has received doses of the vaccine from China.
Pyongyang has accused South Korea of being the source of the outbreak in the country, threatening it with “strong retaliation.”