The North Korea On Thursday (12) he admitted the first outbreak of Covid-19 in the country since the beginning of the pandemic and declared a “grave national emergency”, prompting Kim Jong-un to issue a nationwide confinement order.
So far, the poor country has not accepted any coronavirus cases. In early 2020, the country imposed a severe blockade with the outside, which led to the collapse of its economy and trade.
The official Korean Central News Agency reported that samples collected from several patients with fever in Pyongyang on Sunday were “compatible” with the highly contagious omicron type of coronavirus.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during an event in Pyongyang – Photo: KCNA via Reuters
According to the agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held an emergency meeting of his political cabinet and announced that he would implement a “maximum emergency” regime to control the virus with the aim of “eradicating the roots in the shortest possible time.”
“Kim has ordered all cities and towns across the country to adopt strict isolation in their areas,” the agency said.
The state agency insisted factories, businesses and homes must remain closed and reorganized “to prevent the spread of the insidious virus”.
“Kim emphasized that due to the high level of political awareness of the population, we will safely overcome the emergency and succeed in the emergency quarantine plan,” he added.
A woman displays the result of a Covid-19 test for a government employee on a street in Beijing, China, on May 10, 2022 – Image: Reuters
The opaque statement did not reveal the number of cases detected in the country.
“For Pyongyang to publicly acknowledge omicron cases, the public health situation must be grave. It is likely that Pyongyang will insist on lockdowns, even though China’s Covid zero strategy fails to indicate that this approach does not work for the omicron variant,” said Professor Leif. Eric Easley of Ewha University in Seoul.
Analysts believe that North Korea It has not vaccinated any of its 25 million residents after rejecting offers of doses from the World Health Organization, China and Russia.
A picture of a vaccine in front of the Covid sign – Photo: Tatyana Makeeva / Reuters
They also consider that the poor health system in the isolated country will face many difficulties in dealing with a major outbreak of Covid-19.
The North Korea It is close to countries that have experienced or are still experiencing omicron variant outbreaks, such as South Korea and China, where many cities have been in tight confinement for several weeks.
NK News, a North Korea specialist based in Seoul, said some areas of Pyongyang had been closed for two days.
“Several sources have heard reports of panic buying due to uncertainty about when the lockdown will end,” the publication said.
Seemingly , North Korea Cheung Seong Chang of the Sejong Institute said China will try to avoid China’s tough measures, such as “virtually imprisoning its residents in apartments.”
Health workers on the streets of Beijing, China (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rollins/Reuters)
“But even limited lockdowns will lead to severe food shortages and the same chaos that China is facing,” he said.
throughout the epidemic, North Korea She expressed pride in her stated ability to keep the virus away from her borders. At a military parade in 2020, Kim thanked the citizens and the military for their efforts.
Since the start of the pandemic, the country has not confirmed any cases or deaths due to Covid-19.
Health workers at work in Beijing, China – Photo: Carlos Garcia Rollins/Reuters
Despite state media announcing measures to “prevent the epidemic”, at a major military parade last month in the capital, none of the thousands of participants wore a mask.
The outbreak could hamper the country’s weapons program, which has conducted 15 missile tests since the beginning of the year, including an ICBM.
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