Health services in North Korea have struggled to cope with the Covid-19 outbreak

An outbreak of Covid-19 in North Korea has been labeled a “great disaster” by the country’s leader Kim Jong-un.

It has led to the first deaths since the start of the pandemic and it is feared that a major outbreak could be enormously damaging to the nation of 25 million people.

North Korea is already struggling with a lack of medicine, food shortages and an economy weakened by sanctions and the total closure of its borders.

Twenty-seven people are said to have died from the coronavirus, but around half a million are thought to have developed fevers since late last month.

North Korea has a very low vaccination rate after turning down international offers of vaccines.

Officials said they have controlled the spread of Covid by closing all borders since January 2020.

South Korea has offered aid to its northern neighbor, but Pyongyang has not yet responded.

North Korea has since Thursday imposed measures aimed at limiting the movement of people and supplies between cities and counties, but descriptions of the measures by state media indicate that people are not confined to their homes.