The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported 186,090 new cases, 299,180 recoveries and one death between Friday and Saturday.
If true, that number would be a significant drop – the country reported more than 200,000 “fever cases” every day last week in an outbreak that infected more than 2.5 million people and killed 67, according to official figures.
However, due to the lack of independent reporting within North Korea, the statistics are difficult to verify and there has long been widespread skepticism about the country’s cowardly reporting.
Before announcing the current outbreak earlier this month, North Korea claimed to be covid-free. The country of 25 million reported its first case earlier this month, citing the outbreak as “explosive”, raising concerns about the country’s ability to cope with dilapidated healthcare infrastructure.
North Korea is not known to have imported any coronavirus vaccine and had earlier rejected offers last year to supply nearly three million doses of its Synovac shots from China.
On Monday, three North Korean cargo planes flew in and out of China, according to a South Korean government official. It was not immediately clear what the planes were carrying, but the rare visit came after China promised to help North Korea with its cowardly outbreak.
US President Joe Biden, who is currently visiting South Korea as part of his first Asia trip, said on Saturday that the United States had offered to supply vaccines to North Korea but that Pyongyang had not responded.
A senior U.S. administration official said Sunday that Kovid’s sanctions could play a role in Pyongyang’s failure to respond to talks, Reuters reported.
“Kim Jong Un’s decision to come out and declare this health crisis public is quite telling,” Lina Yoon, a senior Korea researcher at Human Rights Watch, told CNN. “(It) may have a political element, obviously.”
North Korea’s state media claimed Monday that its outbreak had reached more than 390,000 new cases. Outbreaks are now declining after showing “rapid growth in the beginning”, it claims, “after being steadily controlled and managed.”
Activities that KCNA has credited include “intensive disinfection efforts” by about 200,000 medical and anti-epidemic workers in about 100,000 spots across the country, including waste and sewage treatment plants.
It added that military physicians have been deployed to 670 pharmacies in Pyongyang to provide 24-hour medicine and “about 20 mobile temporary drug service centers” have been set up to distribute medicines “faster and more accurately”.
The current problem in North Korea is not limited to the outbreak. It has also been suggested that it is facing widespread food shortages, caused by severe border lockdowns to keep the virus at bay.