Leader Kim Jong Un ordered North Korea’s military to stabilize distribution of COVID-19 medicine in the capital, Pyongyang, in the battle against the country’s first confirmed outbreak of the disease, state media said.

North Korea’s admission that it is battling an “explosive” COVID-19 outbreak raised concerns that the virus could devastate a country with an under-resourced health system, limited testing capabilities, and no vaccine program.

At least one person confirmed to have COVID-19 has died in North Korea and hundreds of thousands have shown fever symptoms, state media said on May 13, offering hints at the potentially dire scale of the country’s first confirmed outbreak of the pandemic.

North Korea reported the country’s first COVID-19 outbreak on May 12, calling it the “gravest national emergency” and ordering a national lockdown, with state media saying an Omicron variant had been detected in the capital, Pyongyang.

A fourth dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine lowered rates of COVID-19 among the elderly but the protection against infection appeared short-lived, a large study in Israel found.

Coronavirus infections in Asia passed 100 million on March 30, according to a Reuters tally, as the region records a resurgence in cases dominated by the BA.2 Omicron sub-variant.

South Korea reported a new record daily high of 383,665 COVID-19 cases, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on March 12, amid a surge of Omicron infections.

Asia passed the grim milestone of 1 million coronavirus-linked deaths on March 11, a Reuters tally showed, as a spike in Omicron variant infections spreads across the region after starting in nations such as Japan and South Korea.

The latest wave of COVID-19 infections has “overwhelmed” Hong Kong, the city’s leader said on Feb. 14, as daily cases have surged by some 20 times over the past two weeks, leaving hospitals short of beds and struggling to cope. South Korea will begin giving out fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccines during February and supply millions of additional home test kits to ease shortages amid a surge in Omicron infections, authorities confirmed on Feb. 14.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration added another warning to the regulatory agency’s fact sheet for Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. In other news, as the Omicron variant rips through the United States, top health officials have noted that the variant is so contagious that if you come into contact with it, you are likely to catch it.