North Korea has entered a “serious emergency” after confirming the first official case of COVID-19. Prime Minister Kim Jong Un ordered a national blockade on Thursday.
According to the Korean Central News Agency, many people in the capital Pyongyang were infected with an Omicron variant of the virus, also known as BA.2, a positive or possible source of infection.
A sample of the infected was collected on May 8, the news agency said.
A confirmed infectious disease in North Korea has plunged into a pandemic for over two years. The country claims to have kept the virus away, despite the rapid spread of the virus around the world.
This country was one of the first countries to close its borders in January 2020 to prevent the virus from spreading abroad.
However, experts have widely disputed North Korea’s claim that there are no cases of the virus.
The official Korean Central News Agency said, “The biggest emergency in the country has occurred, there is a hole in the front line of emergency quarantine, and it has been safely stored for the past two years and three months from February 2020.” rice field. Case.
KCNA said Prime Minister Kim Jong-un has vowed to eradicate the outbreak by ordering the country to “severe blockade” in all regions to prevent the spread of highly contagious viruses.
Kim also said emergency reserve medical supplies will be mobilized, according to the KCNA.
“The state’s epidemic prevention work will be switched to the largest emergency epidemic prevention system,” KCNA said.
Kim has ordered a blockade in the country, though not on a large scale, but this is not the first time.
In July 2020, the leader declared “the biggest emergency” and ordered Kaesong, near the border with South Korea, to shut down for three weeks after a suspected case of COVID-19 was reported. ..
Human Rights Watch, a research and advocacy group, said that strict pandemic measures, including the closure of North Korean foreign visitors and trade borders, further strengthened the government’s already strict controls and at the same time put a humanitarian crisis on it. Warned that it was causing.
Lina Yun, Senior Research Fellow of Human Rights Watch in South Korea, said: “Government and international organizations should pressure the North Korean government to accept monitored international aid such as food, vaccines and medicines and to make it transparent and non-discriminatory in dealing with pandemics.”
According to the latest data from the World Health Organization, 64,207 North Koreans have been tested for COVID-19, all of which were found to be negative as of March 31.
However, given that North Korea refused to ship vaccines from the COVAX Global COVID-19 Vaccine Sharing Program and Sinovac Biotech vaccines from China, how many of the 26 million North Korean population were vaccinated. I don’t know. International surveillance.
The South Korean government made a new offer to North Korea on Wednesday in response to news of the outbreak, but said Pyongyang had not yet responded.
Reuters contributed to this report.