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SEOUL, South Korea – Health officials in North Korea said there were 21 new deaths on Friday from COVID-19, The Associated Press reported.

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Officials added that there were 174,440 new cases of people with fever symptoms.

The latest figures raise the COVID-19 death toll in North Korea to 27. The total number of people who fell ill has risen to 524,440 since late April, officials said. An additional 280,810 people remain in quarantine, according to the AP.

Residents of North Korea are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Health officials made their rare admission of a growing public health crisis after North Korea reported its first outbreak of the virus, The New York Times reported.

On Thursday, North Korea reported 18,000 new “fever cases” and six deaths, one of which tested positive for the BA.2 sub-variant of omicron, CNN reported.

>> Coronavirus: 6 dead from fevers after North Korea acknowledges COVID-19 outbreak

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un ordered a nationwide lockdown following the announcement of the country’s first official COVID-19 case Thursday, The Washington Post reported.

North Korea’s Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Kim as saying the rise in infections was a “grave sign of lapses in our anti-epidemic system.”

Kim appeared in public wearing a mask for the first time on Thursday, the Post reported.