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  4. North Korea confirms its first ever COVID-19 case; Kim Jong Un orders nationwide lockdown

North Korea confirms its first ever COVID-19 case; Kim Jong Un orders nationwide lockdown

North Korea so far has shunned vaccines offered by the UN-backed COVAX distribution program, possibly because those have international monitoring requirements.

Vani Mehrotra Edited by: Vani Mehrotra @vani_mehrotra New Delhi Updated on: May 12, 2022 9:41 IST
North Korea covid19 case
Image Source : AP

An official disinfects the corridor of a building in Pyongyang

Highlights

  • An unspecified number of people in Pyongyang were found infected with the Omicron variant
  • Kim Jong Un called a meeting of officials, wherein measures to contain the infection were discussed
  • Kim called for stabilising transmissions and eliminate the infection source as soon as possible

More than two years into the pandemic, North Korea on Thursday announced its first-ever coronavirus case. According to the Korean Central News Agency, tests from an unspecified number of people in the capital Pyongyang confirmed they were infected with the omicron variant. North Korea had previously claimed a perfect record in keeping out COVID-19, a claim widely doubted by outside experts.

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered for a nationwide lockdown, to curb the spread of COVID-19. Kim Jong Un had also called for raising COVID-19 preventive measures to maximum levels.

The agency said Kim called a meeting of the ruling Korean Workers’ Party’s Politburo, where members decided to raise its anti-virus measures. Kim, during the meeting, called for officials to stabilize transmissions and eliminate the infection source as fast as possible.

Despite the decision to elevate anti-virus steps, Kim had earlier ordered officials to push ahead with scheduled construction, agricultural development and other state projects while bolstering the country’s defense postures to avoid any security vacuum.

Kim said officials must also formulate steps to ease any public inconveniences and other negative situations that could flare as a result of the boosted anti-pandemic measures. Kim said that “the single-minded public unity is the most powerful guarantee that can win in this anti-pandemic fight,” KCNA said.

To keep the virus from entering its territory, North Korea had closed its border to nearly all trade and visitors for two years that further shook an economy already damaged by decades of mismanagement and crippling US-led sanctions over its nuclear weapons and missile program.

North Korea in January tentatively reopened railroad freight traffic between its border town of Sinuiju and China’s Dandong, but China announced a halt to the trade last month as it deals with the spread of COVID-19 in Dandong.

North Korea so far has shunned vaccines offered by the UN-backed COVAX distribution program, possibly because those have international monitoring requirements.

(With inputs from AP)

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