Experts warn that North Korea risks becoming the epicenter of new variants due to the reduced immunity of the population to the virus.
North Korea has so far confirmed that it has no positive cases, although many experts have questioned the veracity of this claim. However, the announcement notes that the circumstances of this outbreak warrant public acceptance.
North Korean state media said that tests conducted on Sunday on a group of people from an unknown organization in Pyongyang showed symptoms of fever. The results subsequently indicated that they were infected with the BA.2 subtype virus.
North Korea has already been in a strict lockdown of the epidemic, banning tourists, diplomats, aid workers and most overland trade with China. On Thursday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un tightened border controls, ordering the closure of all cities and provinces. State media described the outbreak as “the most serious national emergency”.
NKNews, a Seoul-based website focused on monitoring North Korea, Notified this week That people in Pyongyang were ordered to close after warnings of a “national problem”. Personnel told the outlet that there is panic buying and a shortage of supplies as residents fear a prolonged lockdown in the capital.
In recent weeks, North Korea’s state media has repeatedly warned to take more precautions against the virus due to the outbreak along its border with China, urging the public to “strengthen anti-epidemic work in preparation for the prolonged emergency.”
The Politburo blamed the “neglect, inaction, irresponsibility and incompetence” of the pandemic sector for the outbreak, according to state media. Although Kim has been frank at times about his regime’s failures and problems, such as acknowledging “food crisisIt is remarkable that North Korea has acknowledged that there are loopholes in its antiviral measures.
On Thursday, Kim warned of any further loopholes and called for more vigilance along its border with China. He said the North Korean people have already endured a “protracted emergency battle against the virus” and will overcome the crisis.
“What is more dangerous for us than the virus is unscientific fear, lack of confidence and willpower,” Kim was quoted as saying by state media.
Jo Myung-hyun, a senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Political Studies in Seoul, said that although this is not the first case of coronavirus in North Korea, it may have provided an opportunity for Kim to underscore his efforts to control the virus – especially given the reports which is already revolving around the closure of Pyongyang.
“I think the main reason the regime officially acknowledged the presence of the coronavirus in the country is because it happened in Pyongyang and the regime knows that sooner or later the world will find out,” Gu said. “Maybe it’s more about showing control than crying for help.”
Pyongyang has repeatedly rejected offers of millions of doses of A Global vaccination efforts supported by the United Nations. North Korea Strict border closureWhich allows only minimal trade with China, has exacerbated the country’s food crisis, according to the United Nations.
Ki Park, a global health expert at Harvard Medical School who has worked on health care projects in North Korea, called on the international community to help North Korea respond to the abuse, including offers of mRNA vaccines and treatments.
“They will need to reconsider taking additional measures to protect their population, including national vaccination programmes,” Park said. It is in everyone’s interest to help North Korea respond to the abuse. Nobody wants another variant.”
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