North Korea has officially confirmed its first COVID-19 outbreak on Thursday and ordered a national lockdown, with state media reporting a sub-variant of the highly transmissible Omicron virus was discovered in the city of Pyongyang.
“There has been the biggest emergency incident in the country, with a hole in our emergency quarantine front, which has been kept safe for the past two years and three months since February 2020,” the official KCNA news agency said.
The report said people in Pyongyang had contracted the Omicron variant, without detailing the number of cases or possible sources of infection. The samples from the infected people were collected on May 8, it said.
The report was published as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un chaired a meeting of the Workers’ Party to discuss responses to the disease’s initial outbreak. coronavirus†
Kim ordered all of the country’s cities and counties to “strictly seal off” their regions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and said emergency medical supplies would be mobilized, according to KCNA.
While the North has never confirmed a single coronavirus infection in the country, officials in South Korea and the United States have expressed doubts, especially as cases of the Omicron variant were widely reported in neighboring South Korea and China.
North Korea has refused shipments of vaccines from COVAX’s global Covid-19 vaccine exchange program and the Sinovac Biotech vaccine from China.
Kim told the Workers’ Party meeting that the goal of the latest emergency quarantine system is to stably control and contain the spread of the coronavirus and quickly cure infected people to eliminate the source of transmission in the shortest period of time, KCNA said.
A South Korea-based website tracking activity in Pyongyang this week said residents have been told to return home and stay indoors due to a “national issue,” without giving details.
Earlier on Thursday, Chinese state television reported that North Korea has been obligated to leave people at home since May 11 as many of them have “suspected flu symptoms”, without referring to Covid-19.