North Korea On The Verge Of A Covid Disaster After Admitting Pandemic Has Hit The Hermit Nation

By Pamela Glass | Wednesday, 18 May 2022 05:15
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North Korea confirmed its alleged first-ever case of Covid-19, with state media deeming it a 'severe national emergency incident' after more than two years of keeping the pandemic at bay.

State-run KCNA news agency announced samples taken from patients sick with a fever in Pyongyang on Sunday were 'consistent with' the virus' highly transmissible Omicron variant.

The country's top officials, including leader Kim Jong Un, held a crisis politburo meeting to discuss the outbreak and announced they would implement a 'maximum emergency' virus control system. KCNA reported that Kim Jong Un informed the meeting that 'the goal was to eliminate the root within the shortest period of time.'

' He assured us that because of the people's high political awareness ... we will surely overcome the emergency and win the emergency quarantine project,' it asserted.

Kim demanded tighter border controls and implemented lockdown measures, calling for citizens 'to completely block the spread of the malicious virus by thoroughly blocking their areas in all cities and counties across the country,' KCNA said.

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"The state epidemic prevention work shall be switched over to the maximum emergency epidemic prevention system," KCNA said.

All business and production activities will be organized so each work unit is 'isolated' to prevent the spread of disease, it further noted.

Despite the decision to advance anti-virus steps, Kim ordered officials to push ahead with scheduled construction, agricultural development, and other state projects while bracing the country’s defense postures to avoid any security vacuum.

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The impoverished nuclear-armed nation has remained inclosed behind a rigid self-imposed coronavirus blockade since early 2020 to protect itself from the pandemic.

It closed its border to virtually all trade and visitors for two years, further rocking an economy already damaged by decades of mismanagement and crippling U.S.-led sanctions over its nuclear weapons and missile program.

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North Korea in January tentatively reopened railroad freight traffic between its border town of Sinuiju and China's Dandong. However, China announced a halt to the trade last month as it deals with a rapid spread of COVID-19 in Dandong.

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It has thus far shunned vaccines offered by the U.N.-backed COVAX distribution program, perhaps because those have international monitoring requirements. Until Thursday, North Korea had not confirmed a single case of coronavirus.

"There has been the biggest emergency incident in the country, with a hole in our emergency quarantine front, that has been kept safe over the past two years and three months since February 2020," official KCNA news agency previously said, referring to detected cases of a sub-variant of the highly transmissible Omicron virus, also known as BA.2.

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According to the World Health Organization, North Korea had, by the end of 2020, conducted 13,259 Covid-19 tests, which all came back negative.

Analysts have predicted North Korea's crumbling health system would struggle to cope with a major virus outbreak.

Previous reports have suggested North Korea has, in fact, seen Covid-19 outbreaks in the past. However, due to the nation's secretive nature, it has been difficult to verify the true impact the virus has had inside the country.

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