North Korea says fever cases in lockdown province were flu

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SEOUL — North Korea said on Friday it had confirmed cases of unknown fever reported near its border with China were flu patients, state media reported.

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On Thursday, the country said it had locked down the area and mobilized medical teams after four cases of fever were reported in Ryanggang province, but it was not COVID-19, on which the country declared victory this month.

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« All the fever patients in Ryanggang province were revealed to be flu patients, » the KCNA news agency reported on Friday, saying experts had carried out observation of clinical symptoms, an investigation. on epidemiological relationships and nucleic acid testing.

North Korea has never confirmed how many people have caught COVID-19, apparently lacking the means to carry out large-scale testing.

Instead, it reported the daily number of fever patients, which stood at some 4.77 million, and said there had been no new such cases since July 29. .

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In a separate dispatch, KCNA conducted a Russian state media interview with Moscow’s Ambassador to North Korea, Alexandr Matsegora, detailing the COVID situation in the isolated country.

Matsegora said he raised the possibility that the virus originated in China, rather than through anti-North leaflets sent from South Korea, as Pyongyang has argued.

But the North Koreans dismissed that view, presenting him with data that showed northern regions bordering China were far less affected by the outbreak than southern regions, he said, without providing of numbers.

Reuters was unable to verify North Korea’s or Matsegora’s claims, and most foreign embassies and international agencies have left the country because of the pandemic.

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Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which handles cross-border relations, denied Pyongyang’s claim as groundless and said on Friday a resurgence of COVID could not be ruled out in the north.

Matsegora expressed concern over the escalation between the two Koreas, with the North vowing ‘deadly retaliation’ for leafleting activity in the South, which he told Pyongyang ‘over the use biochemical weapons ».

« The situation on the Korean Peninsula will be further escalated with the COVID-19 issue as the impetus, » he said.

NK News, a website specializing in North Korea, reported on Thursday that the country may be preparing to reopen the border in the near future, citing several unnamed sources, although similar reports have proven premature in the past.

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