Covid Now Racing Across North Korea; 6 Dead Already

Like everywhere else, North Korea is now reportedly experiencing the full effects of the pandemic, with nearly 200,000 people quarantined and six officially-reported deaths. The news is a rare admission from the nation. South Korea is said to be offering vaccines to help. The U.S. will not.

The New York Times:
North Korea Reports 6 Covid Deaths And Explosive Spread 

The coronavirus has been spreading across North Korea “explosively” since late last month, killing six people and leaving 187,800 people in quarantine, the country’s state media reported on Friday. Health officials made the rare admission of an emerging public health crisis after the country reported its first outbreak of the virus — after long insisting it had no infections and refusing outside humanitarian aid to fight any spread. The announcement of fatalities came as the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, was visiting the national disease-control headquarters on Thursday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. (Sang-Hun, 5/12)

The New York Times:
Africa’s First Covid-19 Vaccine Factory Has Not Received A Single Order

The first factory in Africa licensed to produce Covid-19 vaccines for the African market has not received a single order and may shut down that production line within weeks if the situation doesn’t change, according to executives of the company, Aspen Pharmacare. The factory, in the coastal South African city of Gqeberha, formerly known as Port Elizabeth, was celebrated as a solution to the continent’s unequal access to vaccines when it announced a deal to start manufacturing Covid vaccines in November of 2021. (Chutel, 5/13)

Fox News:
WHO Reports COVID Cases Down Everywhere But Africa, Americas

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the number of new global COVID-19 cases has continued to decline across the world except for the Americas and Africa. The WHO’s pandemic dashboard reports 675,952 new cases worldwide over the last 24 hours. In the U.S., the WHO said there have been more than 156,200 new daily cases. The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reports 163,335 new cases and 949 new deaths, as omicron sub-variants continue to spread across the nation. (Musto, 5/12)

In other global developments —

Thousands Rally In Croatia After Woman Denied Abortion 

Thousands rallied across Croatia Thursday in solidarity with a woman who was denied an abortion despite her fetus having serious health problems, and whose weeks-long ordeal has sparked public outrage. Protests demanding a better public health system and respect of women’s right to choice were held in several cities and towns throughout the predominantly conservative and strongly Catholic nation. (5/12)

Spain Debates If Menstrual Leave Policy Will Help Or Hurt

A government proposal that could make Spain the first country in Europe to allow workers to take menstrual leave has sparked debate over whether the policy would help or hinder women in the workplace. A leaked draft of new legislation that the Spanish Cabinet is expected to discuss Tuesday proposed giving workers experiencing period pain three days of optional leave a month, with two additional days permitted in exceptional cases. (Kassam and Wilson, 5/12)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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