The first reports of the Cov-Sars-2 virus started in late 2019.
(Yes, hello, it’s been nearly three years.)
The coronavirus being the microscopic parasites they are, are incredibly difficult to contain, especially when it’s highly transmissible and can remain airborne and active for a few days.
No country was left untouched.
Except North Korea, of course, or at least that’s what Kim Jong Un insisted on, until this Thursday (12 May).
First Official Reporting of COVID-19 in North Korea
For the first time in three years, North Korea has officially confirmed its first COVID-19 outbreak and ordered a nation-wide lockdown.
(So, not much difference for a common man’s day-to-day schedule then?)
Its state media has reported that the highly transmissible Omicron sub-variant BA.2 has been detected in Pyongyang.
The state media said that it was the “biggest emergency incident” in their country and there were holes in their emergency quarantine front, which have purportedly kept the isolated country safe for two years and three months since February 2020.
Although the state media confirmed that there were contracted Omicron cases, they didn’t provide any details regarding the case load or the possible sources of infection.
A census of the general situation besides the capital? None what-so-ever.
Kim Jong Un’s Public Response
The report came after the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un led a Workers’ Party meeting to discuss how they should handle the first outbreak of the coronavirus.
It seems that they’re taking a similarly haersh stance as their close ally and neighbour China, since Kim ordered for “all cities and counties across the country to thoroughly lockdown their areas” in order to completely block the transmission of the virus.
This statement vastly differed from the stance that Kim’s regime has taken since the pandemic became a global crisis.
Despite his denials, experts from the United States, Japan, and other countries have remained doubtful about the claims of North Korea being able to completely escape from the effects of the virus.
Worse, it has consistently refused vaccines provided by the outside world.
Shipments had to be placed on hold because North Korea refused to comply with the rules laid out by Covax, an organisation backed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In fact, in August 2020, North Korea claimed that it was making headway with its own vaccine against the virus, but there was scant mention of the vaccine’s progress or existence since then.
If your country wasn’t plagued by the virus, why would you need to develop a solution in the first place?
A COVID-19 outbreak in North Korea is particularly worrisome and has the potential to be devastating due to the country’s antiquated healthcare system and lack of vaccines.
Upon hearing about the outbreak, South Korea’s presidential office has expressed its willingness to provide humanitarian assistance.
Presently in South Korea, at least 86.1% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated.
It’s no secret that while there are tensions between the separated countries, they do have some trading and economic ties.
As it stands, the 38th parallel is akin to a buffer from a whole population of unvaccinated people, who hold a greater risk of allowing the coronavirus to mutate faster, and possibly worsen.
It’s almost frightening to think what the situation in North Korea is like, such that it can make Kim Jong Un admit that his country has contracted the coronavirus.
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Featured Image: Shutterstock / Maxim Studio
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