A major outbreak could be devastating for North Korea, which has poor health care and a largely unvaccinated population (Photo: AP)

The coronavirus is spreading rapidly across North Korea, and country leader Kim Jong Un has acknowledged that the outbreak is a “big disaster”.

The leader called for “maximum emergency control” to slow the spread of the virus, and was first spotted in a mask in public.

Officials reported the first confirmed case of Covid-19 infection in North Korea on Thursday, since the nation reported 21 deaths and claims 174,440 people are showing symptoms of fever.

Earlier, the country claimed that it did not allow crossing the borders of the coronavirus, which has traveled to almost all parts of the world.

However, experts believe that the virus has been circulating among the country’s population for some time.

A major outbreak can be devastating for a secret nation in which poor health care and a largely unvaccinated population.

On Saturday, state media reported that since the end of April, half a million cases of unexplained fever and 27 deaths have been recorded.

The figures show a significant increase in figures on both Friday and Thursday, indicating the scale of the North Korean outbreak.

On Saturday, state media reported that there have been half a million cases of unexplained fever in North Korea since late April (Photo: AP)
North Korea announced on Thursday what it calls its first coronavirus infection (Photo: AP)

After confirming its first case, North Korea introduced what it called maximum preventive measures.

“The spread of the malignant epidemic is there [the greatest] unrest has hit our country since its founding, ”Kim was quoted as saying by the official KCNA news agency.

During a meeting of the ruling party’s Politburo on Saturday, Mr Kim called for unity between the government and the people to stabilize the outbreak as soon as possible.

Officials reportedly used the meeting to discuss ways to distribute medical supplies that the country has released from its emergency reserves.

In a report submitted to the Politburo, the Emergency Epidemic Service blamed most of the deaths for “mistakes such as drug abuse, deprivation of scientific treatment.”

Mr Kim has been spotted in a face mask since North Korea announced its first official COVID case on Thursday (Photo: AP)

Mr Kim, who said he was donating some of his private medicines to help the anti-virus campaign, expressed optimism that the country could take control of the outbreak.

He added that most broadcasts take place in communities isolated from each other and not spreading from region to region.

He urged officials to learn from successful responses to the pandemic of other countries and set an example in China, one of North Korea’s main allies.

Earlier last year, the country rejected proposals by the international community to supply millions of AstraZeneca and Chinese-made injections.

Instead, he claimed to have controlled Covid by closing its borders in early January 2020.

South Korea said it had offered humanitarian aid after Thursday’s announcement, but Pyongyang has not yet responded.

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Kim Jong-un says North Korea facing ‘great disaster’ after Covid outbreak

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