the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-unordered a confinement throughout the country after confirming the first outbreak of coronavirus covid-19 in its territory since the start of the pandemic, state media reported on Thursday.
Kim “called on all cities and municipalities in the country to carefully confine their areas,” the state news agency KCNA said. Factories, businesses and homes must be closed and reorganized to “immaculately block the spread of the malicious virus,” she added.
According to the agency, Kim “He assured 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.”
It was not clear how many infections it has detected North Koreawith little transparent communication.
Until now, the impoverished nuclear-armed nation had not admitted any cases of coronavirus and had imposed since the beginning of 2020 a strict blockade with the outside world that sank its economy and trade.
“For Pyongyang to publicly admit cases of omicron, the public health situation must be serious,” said Professor Leif-Eric Easley of Ewha University in Seoul.
“Pyongyang is likely to stick with lockdowns, even though the failure of China’s zero-Covid strategy suggests this approach doesn’t work with the omicron variant,” he added.
Experts believe North Korea has not vaccinated any of its 25 million people. after rejecting dose offers from the World Health Organization, China and Russia.
Analysts believe the isolated country’s failing health system would struggle to cope with a major Covid-19 outbreak.
Corea from North it is surrounded by countries that have faced or are still facing major outbreaks of the omicron variant such as South Korea or China, where many cities have been under strict lockdown for weeks.
The specialized publication in this country NK News, based in Seoul, assured that some areas of Pyongyang have been confined for two days.
“Multiple sources have heard reports of panic buying due to the uncertainty of when the lockdown will end,” he added.
Throughout the pandemic, North Korea he had boasted of his ability to keep the virus out of his borders. At a military parade in 2020, Kim effusively thanked citizens and the military for their efforts.
From January 3, 2020 to May 11 of this year, there was no confirmed infection or death from covid-19 in the country, according to the World Health Organization.
Although state media have reported “epidemic prevention” measures, at a large military parade last month in the capital none of the thousands of attendees wore a mask.
The outbreak could slow the acceleration of the country’s weapons program, which has conducted a fortnight of projectile tests so far this year, including an intercontinental ballistic missile.