December 07, 2023

Data on COVID-19 tests in North Korea suggests rate is worryingly low: Expert

Epidemiologist says lack of numbers in DPRK reports to WHO since end of 2020 is “incredible”

More than five weeks after North Korea stopped disclosing the number of samples tested for COVID-19, reports by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that as little as one sample per 1000 people in the DPRK may have been screened for the virus so far. According to the WHO’s weekly report on COVID-19 in Asia dated Feb. 12, the DPRK continues to claim zero confirmed cases and has not disclosed how many people have been tested since the end of last year. 

I’m very concerned,” said Michael Toole, an epidemiologist at Australia’s Burnet Center who focuses on developing countries. “South Korea has tested 119 [samples] per 1000 [people]. That’s 119 times higher,” he told NK News. “It’s a very small number, 26,000 -- in a country with a population of almost 26 million.”