North Korea has reported a 15 deaths from 'fever', as the country grapples with its first ever coronavirus outbreak.
At least 324,550 North Koreans have needed medical treatment in recent days, as the nation's hospital system teeters on the brink of collapse.
The sealed-off state has one of the worst healthcare systems in the world, ranking 193 out of 195 countries in a 2021Johns Hopkins University survey.
The country has been thrown into a 'maximum emergency quarantine system' to slow the spread of the virus throughout the population.
Official state media KCNA on Sunday said 42 people had died since the outbreak’s beginning.
More than 820,600 cases have been detected since the first recorded case last week, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Coronavirus was detected for the first time ever in the country on Thursday (May 12), with the highly contagious Omicron variant detected in capital city Pyongyang.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has since ordered nationwide lockdowns after holding emergency crises meetings.
"The spread of malignant disease comes to be a great upheaval in our country since the founding of the DPRK," he told state media, referring to North Korea by its official name.
State media provided more detail about the lockdown in their report, adding: "All provinces, cities and counties of the country have been totally locked down and working units, production units and residential units closed from each other."
North Korea has maintained a tough blockade against Coronavirus since the beginning of the global pandemic in 2020.
But surging outbreaks of the Omicron variant in neighbouring countries meant it was only a matter of time before the disease snuck in, and experts fear Covid-19 could tear through the population thanks to its poor healthcare system.
Researcher at the Sejong Institute Cheong Seong-jang told news.com.au: "With the current very backward and inaccurate testing method - which diagnoses Covid-19 based on whether a person has a fever or not - it’s impossible for North Korea to detect asymptomatic infections and contain the outbreak."
The entirety of North Korea's population is unvaccinated, with the rogue state previously tuning down offers of Covid-19 vaccines from China and the World Health Organisation’s Covax scheme.
Beijing and Seoul have issued fresh offers of aid since the nation's outbreak was announced.Featured Image Credit: Alamy. Gumpanat Thavankitdumrong / Alamy Stock Photo.