Universal lockdown in the country after the announcement of the first coronavirus outbreak

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North Korea confirmed today the first COVID-19 outbreak in the countrydescribing the development as a “national emergency” and ordering nationwide lockdownwith state media reporting that it was located in Pyongyang variant of Omicron.

The first official acknowledgment of COVID infections reflects the likelihood of a major crisis in a country that lacks medical resources and has refused international help with vaccinations while keeping its borders closed.

Until March, no cases of COVID-19 were recordedaccording to World Health Organization (WHO) while there is no official record of North Koreans being vaccinated.

“The most serious emergency has arisen: it has broken the emergency front to prevent the epidemic that we have so far vigorously defended,” the official KCNA news agency reported.

Samples taken on May 8 by people in Pyongyang who developed a fever showed a subtype of Omicron, known as BA.2, according to the same source, without specifying the number of cases or the possible source of infection.

The North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convened a meeting today of the powerful Politburo of the ruling Workers’ Party, ordering a “severe lockdown” nationwide and the utilization of emergency medical supplies.

In state television broadcasts, Kim appeared at the meeting wearing a face mask. In previous such meetings, all those present except him wore a mask.

Although North Korea had never officially confirmed a COVID-19 contamination, South Korean and US officials said an outbreak could not be ruled out in the country as it traded with China before sealing its borders with authorities. of 2020.

Kim imposed strict quarantine measures, including on domestic travel, and in July 2020 declared a state of emergency and imposed a three-week lockdown in Kesong, near the border with South Korea, after a man who had surrendered in the neighboring country in 2017 returned to the city with COVID symptoms.

The latest WHO figures show that 64,207 of North Korea’s 25 million people had taken the COVID-19 test and all had tested negative by 31 March.

North Korea has refused to receive vaccine supplies from the COVAX program as well as Sinovac Biotech from China, suggesting that most of its citizens may be unvaccinated.

The office of new South Korean President Yoon Sook-geol, who was sworn in on Tuesday, said he would not link humanitarian aid to the political situation. Kwon Wong-se, who has been nominated by President Yoon for the post of Minister for Unification with Pyongyang, said during his appointment that he would prepare humanitarian aid for North Korea, including preparations for COVID, syringes and other medical supplies.

The news of the coronavirus outbreak became known after American and South Korean officials warned that North Korea could proceed with its first nuclear test from 2017, maybe this month.

WITHOUT VACCINES, MEDICAL INFRASTRUCTURE IS POOR

At the Politburo meeting, Kim said the emergency measures were aimed at curbing the spread of the virus and rapidly eradicating the source of the transmission. The Politburo criticized the “lack of awareness, sluggishness, irresponsibility and incompetence” of officials tasked with dealing with the pandemic, according to the KCNA.

Failure to contain the infection could be an “unprecedented crisis” for Kim’s leadership, said Lim Eul-chul, a professor of North Korean Studies at South Korea’s Kyungnam University.

“Given the inferior vaccination situation, the possibilities for testing and public health infrastructure compared to China, as well as the lack of intensive care units, there are likely to be many losses,” he said.

Seong Seong-chang of the Sejong Institute noted that North Korea’s nationwide lockdown could cause huge problems over time, exacerbating food shortages and confusing citizens.

Professor Yang Mu-jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said Kim’s convening of the Politburo at dawn may be an indirect call for help to the international community.

Earlier in the day, Chinese state television reported that North Korea had asked citizens to stay indoors since Tuesday as many had “suspicious flu symptoms” without reference to COVID-19.

The South Korean-based NK News website, which monitors what is happening in North Korea, reported this week that Pyongyang residents were asked to stay at home due to a “national problem” without giving further details.

Source: skai.gr

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