People have been told to stay at home for five days to prevent the spread (Image: Reuters)

Pyongyang went into lockdown after the rapid spread of an “unspecified” respiratory illness.

North Korean authorities have not confirmed whether the situation is related to Covid-19 cases.

During the five-day lockdown, people in the city are housebound and asked to take their temperature.

Both Seoul-based NK News and the Russian Embassy reported on the lockdown today, citing a message from Kim Jong-un’s government.

The embassy said “a special anti-epidemic period has been established”, calling on foreign delegations to keep workers inside.

People were also asked to take their temperature four times a day and to report the results to a hospital by telephone.

There was no mention of Covid-19 in the post.

However, an “increase in winter cases of recurrent flu and other respiratory illnesses” was reported.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks at a national meeting on measures against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated photo released August 10, 2022 by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) of North Korea.  KCNA via REUTERS EDITORS PLEASE NOTE - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.  REUTERS CANNOT VERIFY THIS IMAGE ITSELF.  NO SELLING TO THIRD PARTIES.  SOUTH KOREA OUT.  NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has urged people in the capital to stay at home (Image: Reuters)

The lockdowns were first reported by South Korean NK News, which follows the mysterious North Korea from afar.

On Tuesday, the website reported that residents of Pyongyang appeared to be stocking up on goods in anticipation of stricter measures. It was unclear whether other parts of the country had imposed new lockdowns.

In May, cases of Covid-19 emerged in North Korea after Kim Jong-un claimed the country had been coronavirus-free for the past two years.

At the time, most of the country was unvaccinated and the country was severely short of test kits.

People attend an evening gala with youth and students on Saturday, December 31, 2022 to celebrate the New Year in Pyongyang, North Korae.  (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)

Number of Covid cases in North Korea unclear due to poor registration (Photo: AP)

In July, North Korea suggested that the Covid outbreak was caused by people coming into contact with balloons flown from South Korea.

By August, he had declared victory over the virus.

The actual figures have never been confirmed by authorities, leaving the true impact of the pandemic on the country unrevealed.

Pyongyang had only reported the daily number of patients with fever, which totaled about 4.77 million in a population of about 25 million.

But it has not reported such cases since July 29.

State media has continued to report on anti-pandemic measures to combat respiratory illnesses, including influenza, but has yet to report on the lockdown order.

On Tuesday, state news agency KCNA said the city of Kaesong, near the border with South Korea, has stepped up public communication campaigns “so that all working people voluntarily comply with anti-epidemic regulations in their work and lives.”