North Korea reports positive covid case for first time

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TOKYO – North Korea said it detected a case of the BA.2 omicron subvariant in its capital, Pyongyang, the first time the country has acknowledged a positive coronavirus infection since the pandemic began more two years.

The positive case is a worrying development for a country that remains one of two nations in the world not to be vaccinated. North Korea has remained in strict lockdown, closing its borders to most commercial activity overland.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held a leadership meeting and called for tougher border controls against covid, declaring a virus control method of “maximum urgency”, according to state media. The person tested positive on May 8 and the results were identical to the BA.2, state media said on Thursday.

With no vaccines at all, experts said North Korea risks becoming the epicenter of new variants due to low population immunity to the virus.

NKNews, a Seoul-based website focused on monitoring North Korea, reported this week that residents of Pyongyang were ordered to go into lockdown on Tuesday, after being warned of a “national problem”. Individuals told the outlet there were panic buying and supply shortages as residents feared a prolonged lockdown in the capital.

State media on Thursday called the outbreak a “grave national emergency.”

North Korea, already one of the world’s most closed societies, remains in a strict pandemic lockdown as it has adopted a strategy similar to China’s “zero covid” approach, with serious implications for the health and food security of its population.

In recent weeks, North Korean state media has repeatedly warned against taking greater precautions amid outbreaks along its border with China, urging the public to “strengthen anti-terrorism work.” -epidemic in view of the protracted emergency”.

It seems that the virus has nevertheless entered the country. So far, North Korea has said it has no positive cases, although many experts doubt the veracity of this claim.

This is a developing story and will be updated. Min Joo Kim contributed to this report.

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