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WHO committed to support North Korea respond to COVID-19 pandemic

By Shalini BharadwajNew Delhi [India], May 16 (ANI): Expressing concern over the COVID-19 outbreak in North Korea, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday reiterated its commitment to support the country's response to the pandemic.

"WHO is concerned and ready to support the government and the people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to respond to the pandemic and save lives," Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia said, taking reference from KCNA, official DPRK news agency, about deaths and a large number of people with fever.

WHO 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 Singh said.

WHO had supported the country to develop its national strategic preparedness and response plan for COVID-19.

"With the country yet to initiate COVID-19 vaccination, there is a risk that the virus may spread rapidly among the masses unless curtailed with immediate and appropriate measures," Dr Khetrapal Singh 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 added.

WHO continues to work with the national authorities by providing them with necessary information on COVID-19 vaccines available through COVAX.

WHO had supported DPR Korea to develop a COVID-19 vaccine deployment plan along with the partner organizations - UNICEF and GAVI. The plan was reviewed and approved by a multi-partner body at the regional level, making DPR Korea 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 put them at risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19," the Regional Director said. (ANI)