Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - North Korea reports Covid outbreak, declares emergency

North Korea reports Covid outbreak, declares emergency

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
North Korea has confirmed its first-ever case of Covid-19 and declared a "severe national emergency". KIM Won Jin/AFP/File

North Korea reports Covid outbreak, declares emergency

North Korea has confirmed its first-ever case of Covid-19 and declared a “severe national emergency”, with leader Kim Jong Un vowing to “eliminate” the virus, state media said on May 12.

The impoverished, nuclear-armed country has never admitted to a case of Covid-19, with the government imposing a rigid coronavirus blockade of its borders since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

But samples taken from patients sick with fever in the capital were “consistent with” the virus’ highly transmissible Omicron variant, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

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.

Kim told the meeting that “the goal was to eliminate the root within the shortest period of time,” according to KCNA.

“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 said.

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

All business and production activities will be organised so each work unit is “isolated” to prevent the spread of disease, KCNA added.

Experts believe North Korea has not vaccinated any of its 25 million people, having rejected offers of vaccinations from the World Health Organisation, and China and Russia.

North Korea’s crumbling health system would struggle to cope with a major virus outbreak, experts have said.

North Korea is surrounded by countries that have battled – or are still fighting to control – significant outbreaks of Omicron.

South Korea, which has high rates of vaccination, has recently eased almost all Covid-19 restrictions, with cases sharply down after an Omicron-fuelled spike in March.

Neighbouring China, the world’s only major economy to still maintain a zero-Covid policy, is battling multiple Omicron outbreaks.

Major Chinese cities, including the financial capital Shanghai, have been under strict lockdowns for weeks.

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior