By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
SEOUL/PYONGYANG (Worthy News) – North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has imposed a national lockdown, with state media saying his nation faces the “biggest emergency incident” after confirming its first COVID-19 outbreak.
He ordered “all cities and counties” across the country to “thoroughly lockdown their areas” to “completely block the transmission of malicious virus,” declared the official KCNA news agency.
KCNA said Thursday that an unspecified number of people in Pyongyang, the capital, had contracted the Omicron variant of COVID-19. “There has been the biggest emergency incident in the country, with a hole in our emergency quarantine front,” it added in an unusually frank statement.
KCNA said the quarantine policies had “kept us safe over the past two years and three months since February 2020,” when the COVID-19 pandemic became a worldwide phenomenon.
Earlier, Chinese state television reported North Koreans had been ordered to stay at home since Wednesday, saying many had “suspected flu symptoms.” China also offered to help North Korea combat a pandemic.
Health experts warned about the potential impact of a massive outbreak in a country where many people are malnourished. Vaccine supporters also complained that North Korea had not conducted a vaccination campaign.
It wasn’t immediately clear what effect COVID-19 would have on the thousands of Christians and others held for their faith and opinions in labor camps in the autocratically-ruled country.
Kim ordered that the infection source be “eliminated,” but experts warned that with inadequate healthcare, the Asian nation could soon be overwhelmed by patients.
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