North Korea says its COVID outbreak is spreading fast

State media said an additional 174,400 people had symptoms, like fever, that could be due to Covid-19, nearly a tenfold jump from the 18,000 such cases reported on Friday. It also said 21 more people had died in connection with the outbreak, bringing the country’s total to 27. But the reports did not say how many of the new infections or deaths had been definitively linked to Covid-19 through testing.

“North Korea is reporting only ‘people with fever’ because it does not have enough test kits,” said Cheong Seong-chang, the director of the Center for North Korean Studies of the Sejong Institute in South Korea. “Some of the people with fever may not be actual patients, but there could be far more cases among asymptomatic people without any fever. So the actual number of infected people will likely be more than the North has announced.”