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North Korea reports first COVID-19 outbreak with Omicron case, orders lockdown -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO. A photo taken by Kyodo shows people wearing masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus (COVID-19), which has been rife in Pyongyang. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS


By Joori Roh and Soo-hyang Choi

SEOUL (Reuters). -North Korea has confirmed the first COVID-19 epidemic and issued a nationwide lockdown. State media reported that a subvariant of Omicron, a highly transmissible virus, was detected in Pyongyang.

According to the official KCNA news agency, “There was the largest emergency situation in the country with a hole at our emergency quarantine front that has been kept safe over the past two and three years since February 2020.”

According to the report, people living in Pyongyang were infected with Omicron variant. However, there was no information about case numbers and possible source of infection. According to the report, samples were collected from those infected on May 8th.

This report was made public as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presided over a Workers Party meeting discussing responses to the coronavirus’s first epidemic.

Kim directed all the counties and cities of the country “strictly lockdown” their areas to stop the spread of coronavirus. According to KCNA, emergency medical supplies will be mobilised.

Although there has been no confirmed coronavirus infection by the North, South Korean officials and US officials have expressed doubts. This is especially because Omicron variant cases were reported widely in China and South Korea.

North Korea stopped shipments from China of vaccines from both the COVAX global COVID-19 vaccination-sharing program and Sinovac Biotech vaccine.

Kim stated to Workers’ Party members that the newest emergency system to manage coronavirus spread and rapidly heal people infected to stop the transmission of it in the shortest possible time, KCNA reported.

South Korea-based monitoring site for Pyongyang’s activities said that this week residents were instructed to stay indoors and return home because there is a “national crisis.” However, it did not give any details.

On Thursday, Chinese state TV reported that North Korea had asked its citizens to remain at home from May 11, as they suspected many people have the flu. This was without reference to COVID-19.