Despite recent assertions from North Korea that the coronavirus outbreak there is subsiding, a top World Health Organization expert claimed the sickness is “becoming worse, not better.”

“We have genuine hurdles in obtaining access to the raw data and to the actual situation on the ground,” WHO emergency chief Dr. Mike Ryan said at a briefing on Wednesday, adding that “we have major concerns in getting access to the raw data and to the actual situation on the ground.” Unlike in previous epidemics, when states share more sensitive data with WHO so it may assess global public health risks, he said the WHO has not received any confidential information related to the epidemic.

“It’s incredibly difficult to provide a proper analysis to the world when we don’t have access to the needed data,” he said. The World Health Organization has previously raised concern over COVID-19’s effect on North Korea’s people, which are considered to be mostly un-vaccinated and whose health systems may struggle to cope with an increase in cases caused by omicron and its subvariants.

According to Ryan, the WHO had already supplied technical assistance and resources to North Korean authorities, including Covid-19 vaccines on at least three occasions.

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