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North Korea declares Covid-19 ‘severe emergency’

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            North Korea confirmed its first case of Covid-19 on Thursday, with state media declaring it a
North Korea declares Covid-19 ‘severe emergency’

North Korea confirmed its first case of Covid-19 on Thursday, with state media declaring it a “major national emergency incident” after more than two years of supposedly keeping the pandemic at bay.

The official KCNA news agency said samples taken on Sunday from sick patients with a fever in Pyongyang were “consistent with” the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus.

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 said Kim told the meeting that “the goal was to remove the root in the shortest possible time.”

“He assured us that due to the high political awareness of the people… we will surely overcome the emergency and win the emergency quarantine project,” he said.

Kim called for tighter border controls and lockdown measures, telling citizens to “completely block the spread of the malicious virus by completely locking down their areas in all cities and counties across the country,” KCNA said.

All commercial and productive activities will be organized so that each work unit is “isolated” to prevent the spread of diseases, he added.

The impoverished nuclear-armed nation has been behind a rigid self-imposed coronavirus lockdown since early 2020 to protect itself from the pandemic, with the economy suffering and trade all but halted.

North Korea had not confirmed a single case of coronavirus as of Thursday.

According to the World Health Organization, by the end of 2020 North Korea had carried out 13,259 covid-19 tests, all negative.

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

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