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Coronavirus outbreak claims 21 more lives in North Korea

North Korea reported 21 new deaths due to the coronavirus on Saturday, bringing its overall death toll to 27 as the reclusive country grapples with a fast-spreading disease cutting through a population that has little immunity or other safeguards.

North Korea reported 21 new deaths due to the coronavirus on Saturday, bringing its overall death toll to 27 as the reclusive country grapples with a fast-spreading disease cutting through a population that has little immunity or other safeguards.

The country revealed in recent days that more than 520,000 people have been struck with a fever since the end of April, though it is not clear how many of those people actually had the coronavirus. The authoritarian country only confirmed its first coronavirus cases on Thursday.

Speaking before the Politburo on Saturday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un spoke of the spread of a “malign disease” causing great upheaval. He said the breakout was the result of incompetence and irresponsibility.

But he also said he is confident that the outbreak can be controlled and called on all party organizations to join the fight against the disease.

On Thursday, he had called for strict lockdowns and restrictions on movement between communities. However, it is unclear how people are to get food and medicine if they are not allowed to leave their homes.

When that revelation came via state media, there was only a mention of an unconfirmed number of cases in Pyongyang. The next day, media reported that the virus had spread nationwide. The news came after more than two years in which North Korea proclaimed itself to be free of the virus, despite foreign scepticism.

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