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North Korea reports more COVID deaths, says taking ‘swift action’

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SEOUL — North Korea said Sunday a total of 42 people had died as the country entered its fourth day under a nationwide lockdown aimed at stopping the first confirmed outbreak of COVID-19 in the impoverished country.

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On Thursday, North Korea recognized a COVID outbreak for the first time and ordered a lockdown. State news agency KCNA said the country was taking “swift emergency measures” to control the outbreak.

“All provinces, cities and counties across the country have been totally locked down and work units, production units and residential units closed off from each other since the morning of May 12 and a strict and intensive examination of all people is ongoing,” KCNA reported. on Sunday.

A day earlier, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the spread of COVID-19 had thrown his country into “great turmoil” and called for an all-out battle to overcome the outbreak.

Health authorities set up more epidemic prevention posts and rushed medical supplies to hospitals and clinics, while senior officials donated reserve drugs, KCNA reported.

At least 296,180 more people showed symptoms of fever and 15 others died on Sunday, the outlet said.

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Experts say North Korea appears to lack capacity to test those tens of thousands of symptomatic patients. KCNA did not report how many of those suspected cases tested positive for COVID-19.

Overall, North Korea has reported 820,620 suspected cases, of which 324,550 are still under medical treatment, KCNA said.