North Korea recognized on Thursday the first outbreak of coronavirus covid-19 in the country since the start of the pandemic, declared by the official media as a “serious national emergency incident”.
The official KCNA news agency said samples taken from several ill patients with a fever in Pyongyang on Sunday were “consistent” with the highly contagious omicron variant of coronavirus.
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According to this medium, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told an emergency meeting of his political bureau that they would implement a “maximum emergency” virus control system with the aim of “eliminating the root in the shortest possible time.”
“He assured us that due to the high level of political awareness of the population (…) we will safely overcome the emergency and we will succeed with the emergency quarantine plan,” the agency added.
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Kim called for stricter border controls and confinement measures, requesting its citizens to “completely contain the spread of the malicious virus by carefully blocking its area in all cities and counties in the country,” KCNA said.
All businesses and production activities will be organized so that each unit is “isolated” to avoid contagion, he added.
The impoverished nuclear-armed country self-imposed a foreign lockdown in early 2020 to protect itself from the pandemic, which has caused economic problems and stalled trade.
Since the start of the pandemic, North Korea had not confirmed a single case of coronavirus.
According to the World Health Organization, the country had carried out 13,259 covid tests by the end of 2020, all of which were negative.
Analysts say North Korea’s failing health system would struggle to deal with a major Covid outbreak.