North Korea confirmed 21 new deaths and an additional 174,400 people with fever symptoms on Friday after recognizing its first coronavirus outbreak.
The ruling Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reports that Leader Kim Jong Un was briefed on the "infectious disease" at a meeting of the party's Political Bureau on Saturday.
The report says the tally of people with fever has risen to 524,400 from late April through Friday. The North's population is about 25.78 million.
The paper says more than 280,000 people are being treated and 27 have died.
The country's daily count of fever cases on Friday was more than nine times that of Thursday.
Kim described the situation as a "great turmoil since the country's founding," expressing a strong sense of crisis in the meeting.
He said it is very important to study virus control measures in developed nations. He told officials to learn from China's advanced results and to step up measures.
North Korea officially confirmed its first cases of the coronavirus on Thursday and said it would raise its epidemic prevention system to the maximum emergency level. Kim ordered all cities and counties to lock down.
The North's leadership is rushing to conduct virus testing on people and distribute medical supplies by mobilizing healthcare workers, as well as students and teachers from medical universities. But its medical system is said to be vulnerable, and there is concern that infections may spread further.