Responding to a question from UN News, the WHO said it had been in contact with DPRK authorities but had not yet received an official report from the country’s Ministry of Health.
Edwin Salvador, WHO representative in the country, also known as North Korea, said the UN agency supported the country in developing its national COVID-19 preparedness and response plan.
State media saying a Omicron variant detected in capital Pyongyang.
presence of support
Together with its partners – including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and GAVI, the vaccine alliance – WHO supported North Korea in developing a COVID-19 vaccine deployment plan.
The scheme was reviewed and approved by a multi-partner body at the regional level, clearing the isolated country to receive inoculations of COVID-19 through the UN-led equitable vaccine distribution initiative, COVAX.
WHO remains committed to working with DPRK national authorities providing them with the necessary information on COVID-19 vaccines available through COVAX.
COVID outbreak in southern Africa
Meanwhile, as the region’s winter season approaches, southern Africa faces a spike in COVID-19 for the third straight week, halting a two-month decline in overall infections across the continent.
The registered sub-region 46,271 cases last week, marking a 32% increase from the previous week, largely driven by an increase in South Africa.where weekly cases have quadrupled in the last 21 days.
“This increase in cases is an early warning sign that we are closely monitoring,” Abdou Salam Gueye, WHO Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response, Regional Office for Africa, told an online press conference.
“Now is the time for countries to step up preparedness and ensure they can mount an effective response in the event of a new pandemic wave.”
Despite the increase in cases, hospitalization in South Africa remains low, with the number of hospitalized COVID-positive patients at around 20% of the peak in late December.
However, in the last three weeks, there have been 376 recorded deaths – double the number of the previous three.
In Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, where the latest wave was first detected, both hospitalizations and inpatient deaths have increased by 90-100% in the last two weeks.
“With the experience gained over the past two years, we must do everything possible to contain the adverse impacts of a new pandemic wave, intensifying vaccination and measures to detect and prevent the spread of the virus, as well as treat patients,” he said. Dr. Gueye said.
In the middle relaxed public health and social measuresthe current boost is being powered by the Omicron variant.
As of early April, South Africa has reported 1,369 cases of the Omicron subvariant BA.2, 703 cases of the BA.4 subvariant, and 222 cases of the BA.5 subvariant.
However, BA.4 and BA.5 remain the most concerning because they contain the greatest number of mutations and it is still unclear how they affect immunity.
Eswatini and Namibia are also seeing an increase in cases, with both reporting 50% more in the last two weeks than the previous two.
During the week ending May 8, Africa has reported 52,878 COVID cases – a 38% increase from the previous week.
“To beat this pandemic, we must stay tuned. The harsh reality is that complacency comes at a high price,” said the WHO official.
Deaths in Europe pass the two million mark
At the same time, the WHO European Region confirmed that the death toll had reached two million – representing just a fraction of the total deaths directly and indirectly associated with COVID-19.
Although declining, cases in the region remain very high, a reminder that SARS-CoV-2 remains a killer virus, especially for the unvaccinated and clinically vulnerable, the WHO office said.
However, the WHO maintained that with definitive measures on several fronts, both now and in the long term, the acute phase of the pandemic will come to an end.
These measures include continuing to protect the most vulnerable; monitor the virus and its spread; keeping health systems ready for future pandemic threats; and dealing with longer-term impacts such as the imminent prospect of millions with post-COVID, or ‘long-term COVID’, conditions.
celebrating the loss
To mark the somber milestone, WHO provided powerful testimony from the bereaved.
“I cannot put into words how much the loss of my father has affected my life and that of my family,” London-based Safiah Ngah said of her father, a doctor, who succumbed to Covid-19.
“It feels like the foundation of our lives has just been destroyed.”