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Saturday, 10 June 2023
  • Joe Biden says US has offered North Korea COVID vaccines but ‘got no response’

Joe Biden says US has offered North Korea COVID vaccines but ‘got no response’
Employees of Songyo Knitwear Factory in Songyo district disinfect the work floor in Pyongyang, North Korea (AP)

US President Joe Biden said Saturday (May 21) that America had offered North Korea COVID-19 vaccines but “got no response” despite a spiraling epidemic in the isolated country.

He said at a press conference in Seoul: “We've offered vaccines, not only to North Korea but to China as well and we're prepared to do that immediately," adding that “We've got no response."

North Korea reported more than 200,000 new patients suffering from fever for a fifth consecutive day as the country fights its first confirmed coronavirus outbreak, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said on Saturday (May 21), citing the North's state broadcaster.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wears a face mask amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, while inspecting a pharmacy in Pyongyang, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2022. KCNA via Reuters

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 that has refused outside help and kept its borders shut.

At least 219,030 people showed fever symptoms as of Friday evening, taking the total number of such cases to 2,460,640, the official Korean Central Television (KCTV) reported citing data from the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters, according to Yonhap. The death toll rose by one to 66.

North Korea reports over 232,000 new 'fever' cases in suspected COVID outbreak

The UN human rights agency has warned of "devastating" consequences for its 25 million people, while World Health Organization said an unchecked spread could lead to the emergence of deadlier new variants.