GENEVA: The World Health Organization (WHO) lamented on Wednesday (Jun 1) that it had no access to data about North Korea’s COVID-19 outbreak, but assumed the crisis was deepening, contrary to Pyongyang’s reports of “progress”.
North Korea, which announced its first ever coronavirus cases on May 12, said last week its COVID-19 outbreak had been brought under control, with state media reporting falling caseloads.
But WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan questioned that claim.
“We assume that situation is getting worse not better,” he told reporters, acknowledging though that the secretive totalitarian state had provided only very limited information.
“Right now we are not in a position to make an adequate risk assessment of the situation on the ground,” he said, pointing out that “it is very, very difficult to provide a proper analysis to the world when we don’t have access to the necessary data”.
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s lead on COVID-19, meanwhile said the country had registered about 3.7 million suspected Covid cases, although the official accounts only mention cases of “fever”.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported last Friday that caseloads had fallen for a seventh straight day, with just more than 100,000 new “fever” cases in 24 hours, down from a high of 390,000 daily cases earlier in May.
KCNA also reported one more death on Friday – taking the official toll to 69 – and claimed the fatality rate remains at 0.002 per cent.
“There are many recoveries that have been reported, but there’s limited information that we have from the country currently,” Van Kerkhove said.