“Respiratory disease”. This is how North Korea justified a five-day quarantine in its capital, Pyongyang, according to a specialized South Korean website.
The move appears to be the first citywide measure taken since the country declared Covid-19 “victory” in August 2022.
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Pyongyang residents have been ordered to stay at home from Wednesday to Sunday and must take multiple temperature readings daily, Seoul-based NK News reported, citing a government document.
This text does not mention Covid-19, but states that the common cold is among the new diseases that are currently spreading in the capital.
Citing sources in Pyongyang, NK News reported on Tuesday that residents of North Korea’s largest city appeared to be preparing for a possible lockdown.
It is not known if other territories are affected by similar restrictions, and state media has not announced any new measures. The Korean peninsula is currently experiencing what meteorologists are calling a cold snap in Siberia, with temperatures in Pyongyang dropping to -22°C.
China, trading partner and neighbor
China, a key trading partner and neighbor of North Korea, has faced a wave of infections since it lifted its radical “zero Covid” policy.
North Korea has strictly closed its borders since the start of the pandemic, but is allowing some trade with China.
Pyongyang announced its first case of Covid in May 2022 and declared victory over the disease three months later.
Worst healthcare system in the world
The World Health Organization has long cast doubt on Pyongyang’s Covid statistics and the country’s claims that the outbreak is under control.
According to experts, North Korea has one of the worst healthcare systems in the world with poorly equipped hospitals, multiple intensive care units and no treatment for Covid-19.
According to specialized sources, Pyongyang has not vaccinated about 25 million of its inhabitants. Other information indicates that the country would have received vaccines from China.