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North Korea reports first COVID outbreak and declares state of emergency

On Thursday, North Korea confirmed its first COVID-19 outbreak, declaring it a ‘grave national emergency’ and demanding a nationwide lockdown, with state media saying that an Omicron strain had been found in Pyongyang.

The first public admission of COVID cases emphasises the risk of a severe crisis in a country that has resisted foreign vaccine assistance and closed its borders.

According to the World Health Organization, no instances of COVID-19 have been documented as of March, and there is no public record of any North Koreans having been vaccinated.

‘The state’s most critical emergency situation occurred: a break was made on our emergency epidemic prevention front, which has resolutely defended for two years and three months from February 2020,’ according to the official KCNA news agency.

A sub-variant of the Omicron virus, also known as BA.2, was found in samples taken on May 8 from patients in Pyongyang who were having fevers, according to the study, which did not provide specifics on case numbers or suspected sources of infection.

The report was released following a Workers’ Party conference headed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday to consider solutions to the outbreak.

According to KCNA, Kim ordered all towns and counties in the country to ‘strictly lock down’ their districts in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He also stated that emergency medical supplies would be mobilised.

According to KCNA, ‘the state epidemic prevention effort will be transferred over to the greatest emergency epidemic prevention system.’

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