N. Korea reports first COVID eruption, orders lockout in “severe emergency”

  • North Korea declares state of emergency
  • Kim Jong Un is likely to cause you an ‘unprecedented crisis’ – expert
  • The isolated state has rejected vaccine offers
  • It is believed that none of the North Korean citizens were vaccinated

SEOUL, May 12 (Reuters) – North Korea on Thursday announced its first COVID-19 eruption, calling it a “severe national emergency” and ordering a national lock-up, state media reported that the Omigron variant was detected in the capital, Pyongyang.

North Korea did not confirm the Govt infection before Thursday, although South Korean and US officials said there may have been previous cases in the isolated country, before closing its border to prevent the virus in early 2020 based on its trade and travel with China.

“There has been a very serious emergency in the state: a break has emerged in our emergency epidemic prevention front, which has so far been firmly guarded,” the official KCNA news agency reported.

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The first public admission of Govt.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of March, there were no reported cases of COVID and no official record of any North Koreans being vaccinated.

KCNA said samples taken on May 8 from flu victims in Pyongyang showed a subtype of the omigran virus, also known as PA2. It did not give the number of cases or say what the evidence might be.

Earlier on Thursday, Chinese state television reported that North Korea had ordered a stay at home from Tuesday, citing “suspected flu symptoms” among some people.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has convened a meeting of the ruling Labor Party’s powerful politburo and ordered the mobilization of “severe locks” and emergency stockpiles across the country.

“State epidemiological missions will be transferred to the maximum emergency epidemic prevention system,” KCNA said.

State television showed Kim wearing a mask when she arrived at the meeting. All other participants wore masks.

In past scenes of encounters like this, everyone except him was wearing a mask. There is no sign of masks in the pictures of a large military parade that took place recently.

No vaccine, scarce resources

For more than two years, Kim has enforced strict regulations to prevent covid disease, including a ban on travel between provinces. In July 2020, he declared a state of emergency and imposed a three-week lockout in the city of Kaesong near the Korean border, and in 2017 a man returning to the south showed signs of COVID and returned to the city.

According to the latest WHO InformationAs of the end of March, 64,207 of North Korea’s 25 million people had been tested for govt, and all were negative.

North Korea has refused to supply vaccines from the COVAX distribution program and China’s Sinovak Biotech vaccine, which could put the vast majority of people in the relatively young country at high risk for infection. read more

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The office of the new president of South Korea, Eun-suk-yol, who took office on Tuesday, said humanitarian aid would not be linked to political differences with North Korea.

Kwon Young-se, the UN candidate for co-ordinator for co-operation in relations with Korea, said in his confirmation that Kovit was preparing humanitarian aid for the north, including syringes and other medical supplies.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said China was ready to make “every effort” to help North Korea fight the explosion.

The border with China was reopened for trade earlier this year, but China said the main crossroads between its Dantong city and the North Korean city of Sinuiju was closed in April due to the Kovit situation on the Chinese side. read more

News of the explosion came after US and South Korean officials warned earlier this month that North Korea could conduct its first nuclear test since 2017, after breaking the 2017 ban on long-range missile testing. read more

Kim said Politburo emergency measures are aimed at controlling the virus and removing the source of the spread. Politburo criticized the anti-virus authorities’ “laziness, irresponsibility and incompetence”, KCNA said.

Lim Yul-zul, a professor of North Korean studies at Kyungnam University in South Korea, described Kim’s failure to control the epidemic as an “unprecedented crisis.”

“Given the very low vaccine status and testing capacity and public health infrastructure compared to China, the lack of intensive care units is likely to result in a large number of fatalities,” he said.

South Korea’s central bank said last July that the northern economy had suffered its biggest contraction in 23 years by 2020 due to border restrictions, UN sanctions and bad weather. read more

Report by Soo-hyang Choi and Jury Ro in Seoul, Ryan Woo and Yu Lun Tian in Beijing; Additional Reporting and Writing by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Jack Kim and Jerry Doyle, Robert Brussel

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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