At least six people have died due to COVID-19, and more than 350,000 are infected in North Korea as an “explosive” coronavirus outbreak takes a toll on the isolated nation, the country’s state media KCNA confirmed, according to CNN.
This comes a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un confirmed the first-ever COVID-19 case in the hermit kingdom.
What Happened: North Korea is reporting COVID-19 cases for the first time since the pandemic started in 2020.
Experts believe that given North Korea’s limited testing capabilities, the numbers it is reporting represent a small fraction of the infections, Reuters reported.
They also reportedly predicted that this could lead to thousands of deaths in one of only two countries without a COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
Why It Matters: For more than two years, North Korea claimed to have kept the situation at bay by imposing a rigid COVID-19 blockade of its borders.
North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles toward the sea in the middle of this reported outbreak, according to the Associated Press. The Biden administration has said the country could be preparing for a nuclear test ahead of the U.S. president’s Asia visit.
Joe Biden is expected to be in Japan and South Korea from May 20-24.