After the first official case of Covid-19 was announced, Kim Jong-un called for containment

North Korea has been very proud to have officially escaped Covid-19 so far. But the first case of infection since the beginning of the epidemic in the country was reported on Thursday, May 12 by the official official Central News Agency, describing it as ‘A grave national emergency’.

This first contamination was discovered during tests conducted Sunday in Pyongyang on sick and feverish patients, “matches” to a highly transmissible Omicron variant, the agency said.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called at a crisis meeting of the ruling party’s Politburo to lift preventive measures against Covid-19 to the maximum while establishing a virus control system.A state of extreme emergency.

“The goal is to root out the root as quickly as possible.”the leader said, citing the agency. This assured us, because of the strong political awareness of the population (…), We will certainly overcome the emergency and succeed with the emergency quarantine project.”news agency said.

strict controls

Kim Jong Un, who said emergency medical supplies would be mobilized, called for tighter border controls as well as containment measures. Secondly It called on all the cities and governorates in the country to carefully count their lands and organize employment and production after isolating every work unit, every production unit, and every housing unit from each order to prevent the spread of ‘virulent virus’KCNA said.

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North Korea, which has a population of about 26 million, performed 13,259 tests for Covid-19 in 2020, all of which came back negative, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The first suspected case of Covid-19 in North Korea was in July 2020 – a fugitive who passed through South Korea before returning to the North – without confirmation.

Many foreign experts doubt the veracity of the official figures. But South Korean officials said North Korea likely avoided a large-scale outbreak, in part because it imposed strict virus controls around the start of the epidemic, such as quarantining people with Covid-19-like symptoms.

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Pyongyang has also virtually halted cross-border traffic and trade for two years, reportedly ordering troops to shoot any intruders crossing its border as soon as they see it.

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In January, rail freight traffic between the Chinese border city of Sinuiju and Dandong was partially reopened, but Beijing announced a halt to trade in April as the country faces the spread of Covid-19 in Dandong itself.

North Korea was one of the last places in the world without an officially recognized case of the virus. Turkmenistan, an equally closed and authoritarian country in Central Asia, has not reported any cases to the World Health Organization, despite its widespread skepticism by experts.

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Pyongyang has so far avoided vaccines provided by the UN-backed Covax distribution program that imposes international monitoring measures.

Observers say the country’s deeply flawed health system would have struggled to cope with a large-scale outbreak, which, along with other problems such as severe food shortages, an economy already plagued by decades of mismanagement and US sanctions, could lead to significant instability within the country. country. .

Le Monde with The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse

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