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COVID digest: North Korea mobilizes army amid virus surge

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Pyongyang, May 17: North Korea has mobilized its military to ramp up its coronavirus response and distribute medication as the isolated nation battles a sweeping COVID-19 outbreak, state media said on Tuesday.

In a bid to step up contact tracing efforts, the country has also deployed over 10,000 health workers to help track possible patients.

COVID digest: North Korea mobilizes army amid virus surge

On Tuesday, North Korea saw yet another massive spike in what is being called "fever," with state media reporting nearly 270,000 cases.

The country also registered six deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 56 since North Korea first confirmed a COVID-19 outbreak within its borders last week.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned that the outbreak could spread rapidly among North Korea's unvaccinated population.

Here are the latest major developments on coronavirus from around the world:

Asia

Japan has announced "test tourism" in the form of limited package tours in a bid to gather information before fully re-opening the country to tourists.

The Tourism Agency said on Tuesday that it would start allowing small group tours to enter the country from later this month as "test cases."

People from the United States, Australia, Thailand and Singapore who have been triple-vaccinated will be allowed to take part in the tours.

"This venture will allow us to verify compliance and emergency responses for infection prevention and formulate guidelines for travel agencies and accommodation operators to keep in mind," a statement for the agency said.

In China, Shanghai authorities on Tuesday declared that the city had achieved "zero-COVID" status across all its districts.

"All 16 districts of Shanghai have already achieved zero-COVID at the community level," Shanghai health commission official Zhao Dandan told the media.

Shanghai's population of around 25 million people have been under a strict lockdown for nearly seven weeks.

Authorities plan to resume outdoor activities in the city in phases, with some convenience stores and pharmacies reopening this week.

Most curbs, however, remain in place until May 21, following which public transport and other services will resume gradually.

Americas

Argentina's Health Minister announced that a "fourth wave" of coronavirus has begun in the country.

However, Argentina is in a "completely different situation from the previous waves," Carla Vizzotti said on Monday.

Ruling out a return to lockdowns, Vizzotti said she does not fear "an increase in deaths or people in intensive care."

Meanwhile in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to green-light a booster jab of BioNTech-Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines for children between the age of 5 and 11 as early as Tuesday, the New York Times reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Source: DW

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