North Korea reported more than 200,000 new patients suffering from fever for a fifth consecutive day, as it fought its first confirmed coronavirus outbreak.
The ongoing Covid-19 wave, declared last week, has fuelled concerns over a lack of vaccines, inadequate medical infrastructure and a potential food crisis in the country of 25 million, which has refused outside help and kept its borders shut.
At least 219,030 people newly showed fever symptoms as of yesterday evening, taking the total number of such cases to 2,460,640, the official KCNA news agency reported, citing data from the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters. The death toll rose by one to 66.
KCNA did not say how many people had tested positive for the virus.
In a separate report, KCNA said North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un had held a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party's powerful politburo early today to check the Covid-19 situation and responses made over the nine days since the outbreak emerged.
Mr Kim praised "positive progress" in the anti-virus campaign but called for consistently adjusting and optimising policy to "seize the chance of winning the battle against the epidemic."
KCNA did not elaborate on where Mr Kim saw progress, but state media has lauded "good results" in the country's COVID fight, citing sustained farming and production in key industrial sectors and construction projects.
With no national vaccination campaign and limited testing capability, the daily data released by state media could be underreported, and it may be difficult to assess the scale of the Covid-19 wave, experts have said.
The UN human rights agency has warned of "devastating" consequences for North Korea's 25 million people, while the World Health Organization has said unchecked spread could lead to emergence of deadlier new variants.
The US and South Korea expressed concern over North Korea's spiraling Covid-19 outbreak and made a fresh offer of aid, they said in a statement today as US President Joe Biden visited Seoul.
"Both leaders express concern over the recent Covid-19 outbreak in the DPRK. The ROK and the US are willing to work with the international community to provide assistance to the DPRK to combat the virus," the statement said