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Reversing COVID-free claim, North Korea reports 'explosive' outbreak

Pyongyang sounds out potential for help from abroad, with as many as 187,800 isolated

North Korea has announced an "explosive" COVID-19 outbreak, reversing an earlier assertion that the country had no cases. (Photo by Kyodo)   © Reuters

SEOUL -- Abandoning past boasts of no COVID-19 cases, North Korea reported Friday that up to 187,800 people are "being isolated and treated," spurring speculation of a severe outbreak and a desire for international assistance.

"A fever whose cause couldn't be identified explosively spread nationwide from late April" to affect more than 350,000 people, the official Korean Central News Agency reported Friday in a story acknowledging "the nationwide spread of COVID-19." At least 162,200 of them have fully recovered, KCNA said.

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