Kim Jong-un suggests North Korea to start vaccination against COVID

Kim Jong-un suggests North Korea to start vaccination against COVID

People wearing face masks following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) follow a trail in Cheong-do County, which has been designated a “special care zone” following the coronavirus outbreak, near Daegu in North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea. March 11, 2020 REUTERS/Kim Kyung-hoon/File Photo

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SEOUL, Sep 9 (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has suggested the isolated country could start vaccinating against COVID-19 in November, state media reported on Friday.

In a speech Thursday at the North Korean National Assembly, Kim cited World Health Organization warnings that a surge in coronavirus infections could occur in the winter.

“Therefore, along with responsible vaccination, we must recommend that all residents wear masks to protect their health from November,” he said, without elaborating.

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North Korea has not confirmed the introduction of any COVID-19 vaccines, although customs records show it imported some unspecified vaccines from China this year.

Last month, Kim Jong-un declared victory over COVID-19 and ordered the lifting of the maximum anti-epidemic measures imposed in May, but added that North Korea must maintain a “steel anti-epidemic barrier.”

North Korea has never confirmed how many people have contracted COVID, presumably because it does not have the funds to conduct large-scale testing.

Instead, he reported a daily number of fever patients, which rose to about 4.77 million out of a population of about 25 million. But no new such cases have been reported since July 29, and the death toll stands at 74.

Experts, including the WHO, have questioned these numbers, citing an apparent lack of testing capacity in North Korea.

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Reporting by Josh Smith; Edited by Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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