16th May, 2022
Expressing concern at the COVID-19 outbreak in North Korea, the World Health Organization on Monday reiterated its commitment to support the country respond to the pandemic.
“WHO is concerned and ready to support the government and the people of DPR Korea to respond to the pandemic and save lives,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, taking note of reports by KCNA, official DPRK news agency, about deaths and a large number of people with fever.
WHO however said it is awaiting information from the national focal person for International Health Regulations (IHR) about the outbreak.
“We stand committed to assist our Member country, as needed, by providing technical support to scale up testing, strengthen case management, implement situation specific public health and social measures, and provide essential medical supplies and medicines,” the Regional Director said.
WHO had supported the country develop its national strategic preparedness and response plan for COVID-19.
“With the country yet to initiate COVID-19 vaccination, there is risk that the virus may spread rapidly among the masses unless curtailed with immediate and appropriate measures,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.
The global organisation said it is important for all countries, irrespective of their COVID-19 transmission status, to roll out COVID-19 vaccination, which protects against severe disease and death, she said.
It added that it will WHO continue to work with the national authorities by providing them with necessary information on COVID-19 vaccines available through COVAX.
WHO had supported North Korea develop a COVID-19 vaccine deployment plan along with partner organizations – UNICEF and GAVI.
The plan was reviewed and approved by a multi-partner body at the regional level, making the country eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX.
“The pandemic is far from over. Every country must implement tailored public health and social measures and protect its population with COVID-19 vaccines, prioritizing the vulnerable population such as health workers, the elderly and those with underlying conditions that puts them at risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19,” the Regional Director said.