A large military parade for the establishment of its army North Koreawhich was intended to be an impressive demonstration of its military prowess, may have led to the spread of Covid-19 across the country, according to experts.
North Korea announced today the first death in the country due to Covid-19stating that the virus has already spread across the country, with a “fever” having “spread explosively across the country since late April”, according to the official KCNA news agency.
For Hong Minresearcher at the Korean Institute for National Unity, based in Seoul, the current Covid-19 epidemic “Closely linked to the April 25 parade”a huge military parade on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the country’s army.
State-run television footage shows thousands of people – without masks and without social distance – gathering in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang to watch the parade of soldiers and applaud the passage of armor, launchers and launchers. intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).
“More than 20,000 people prepared for the parade two months before the event and stayed in the capital to be photographed with Kim Jong Un,” Hong Min told AFP.
Excessive ‘confidence’ –
According to Hong Min, the regime of Kim Jong Un does not seem to have “realized the seriousness” of the situation until it was delayed and proceeded with diagnostic tests for Covid-19 after the return of the participants in the parade to their provinces.
“Holding a military parade in front of a large crowd as the Omicron variant swept through neighboring China shows that Pyongyang was overconfident in its ability to tackle and prevent the virus,” said Seong Seong-chang of the Seong Institute. .
The country announced yesterday the first cases of coronavirus and proceeded to impose a nationwide lockdown. Six people with “fever” succumbed to the disease, one of whom was found to be infected with the BA.2 variant of Omicron, according to the official KCNA news agency.
None of the country’s 25 million people have been vaccinated against Covid, with Pyongyang rejecting vaccination bids from the World Health Organization, China and Russia.
North Korea was one of the first countries to close its borders in January 2020 following the outbreak of the virus in neighboring China.
The policy of strict isolation seemed to keep Covid away in the first phase and the country had not recorded any cases in two years, although this claim is disputed by some experts.
Pyongyang hosted an evening military parade in September 2021, with no reported effects, and photos from the event showed participants wearing masks.
But over time, North Korea appears to have eased its vigilance inside the country, with state media reporting the fight against the epidemic more sporadically, analysts say.
At the time of the 2021 parade, the movement of people and goods to and from China was almost completely banned, said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies.
Earlier this year, however, North Korea temporarily eased health restrictions, possibly leading to the current Omicron epidemic, he added.
“The virus has been able to penetrate North Korea through three different routes: railways, shipping and smuggling,” he added. “The fact is that it came from China.”