100s of titles, one news app for just $10 a month.
Dive Deeper:
North Korea reports first Covid-19 outbreak, declares emergency
Seoul (AFP) - North Korea has confirmed its first-ever case of Covid-19 and declared a "severe national emergency", with leader…
North Korea Confirms First Covid-19 Death in 'Explosive' Outbreak
North Korea confirmed its first ever Covid-19 death on Friday, saying fever was spreading "explosively" nationwide and tens of thousands…
North Korea confirms first Covid-19 death in 'explosive' outbreak
Seoul (AFP) - North Korea confirmed its first Covid-19 death on Friday, saying fever was spreading "explosively" nationwide and tens of…
6 dead, tens of thousands infected as North Korea reports first COVID outbreak
North Korea says six people have died amid an 'explosive' spread of fever, a day after it acknowledged a COVID-19…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
North Korea reports first COVID outbreak, orders lockdown
Kim Jong Un calls nationwide lockdown to tackle ‘malicious’ virus after BA.2 sub-variant detected in Pyongyang.
North Korea Reports First Covid Cases, Kim Orders National Lockdown
North Korea confirmed its first-ever Covid cases on Thursday and declared a "serious emergency", with leader Kim Jong Un ordering…
Get all your news in one place
Latest World news:
Saudi Arabia Stresses Keenness on Stability of Iraq, Security in Syria
The Saudi government reiterated on Tuesday its keenness on stability in Iraq as it seeks to impose its sovereignty over…
Read news from The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more, with one subscription
Learn More
Fate of hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers unclear as Azovstal resistance ends
Ukraine says there will be prisoner swap but some Russian officials have said forces could be tried or executed
Biden tells Buffalo shooting mourners: ‘Evil will not win. Hate will not prevail’ – live
Americans urged by president to ‘speak up and reject white supremacy’ – follow all the day’s politics news
U.S. to ease some economic sanctions on Venezuela
Senior administration officials said they are doing this at the request of the Venezuelan interim government.
Why Is Turkey Wary of Nordic States’ NATO Bid?
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has thrown a spanner in the works of Sweden and Finland’s historic decisions to seek…
From analysis to good news, read the world’s best news in one place
‘Defenders of Mariupol are the heroes of our time’: the battle that gripped the world
Surrounded and bombarded by Russian troops, the ‘apocalyptic’ siege that defined the brutality of Putin’s war appears over
What is ‘great replacement’ theory and how did its racist lies spread in the US?
Buffalo gunman is suspected of posting a 180-page racist diatribe in which he repeatedly referenced the extremist conspiracy theory

North Korea reports first Covid-19 outbreak, declares emergency

Kim Jong Un has held a crisis politburo meeting to discuss the Covid outbreak and announced they would implement a "maximum emergency" virus control system.

SEOUL: North Korea has confirmed its first-ever case of Covid-19 and declared a "severe national emergency", with leader Kim Jong Un vowing to "eliminate" the virus, state media said Thursday.

The impoverished, nuclear-armed country has never admitted to a case of Covid-19, with the government imposing a rigid coronavirus blockade of its borders since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

But samples taken from patients sick with fever in the capital were "consistent with" the virus' highly transmissible Omicron variant, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

Top officials, including leader Kim Jong Un, held a crisis politburo meeting to discuss the outbreak and announced they would implement a "maximum emergency" virus control system.

Kim told the meeting that "the goal was to eliminate the root within the shortest period of time," according to KCNA.

"He assured us that because of the people's high political awareness... we will surely overcome the emergency and win the emergency quarantine project," it said.

Kim called for tighter border controls and lockdown measures, telling citizens "to completely block the spread of the malicious virus by thoroughly blocking their areas in all cities and counties across the country".

All business and production activities will be organised so each work unit is "isolated" to prevent the spread of disease, KCNA added.

- No vaccines -

Experts believe North Korea has not vaccinated any of its 25 million people, having rejected offers of vaccinations from the World Health Organisation, and China and Russia.

North Korea's crumbling health system would struggle to cope with a major virus outbreak, experts have said.

North Korea is surrounded by countries that have battled -- or are still fighting to control -- significant outbreaks of Omicron.

South Korea, which has high rates of vaccination, has recently eased almost all Covid-19 restrictions, with cases sharply down after an Omicron-fuelled spike in March.

Neighbouring China, the world's only major economy to still maintain a zero-Covid policy, is battling multiple Omicron outbreaks.

Major Chinese cities, including the financial capital Shanghai, have been under strict lockdowns for weeks.

- Lockdown? -

Seoul-based specialist site NK News reported that areas of Pyongyang had been locked down for two days.

"Multiple sources have also heard reports of panic buying due to uncertainty of when the lockdown might end," the site reported, citing sources in Pyongyang.

North Korea has long boasted of its ability to keep the virus at bay.

At a military parade in 2020, Kim Jong Un repeatedly and effusively thanked the citizens and military for their loyalty and for remaining healthy in the face of the global coronavirus epidemic.

From January 3 2020 to May 11 this year, there were zero confirmed cases of Covid-19 and zero reported deaths from North Korea, the World Health Organisation said.

State media has previously reported on "epidemic prevention" measures, and civilians have sometimes been shown wearing masks in official photographs.

But at a huge military parade in Pyongyang late last month broadcast by state media, none of the thousands of attendees or participants were seen wearing masks.

North Korea's health crisis could potentially disrupt the country's banned weapons launches, analysts said.

Pyongyang has conducted more than a dozen weapons tests so far this year, including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at full range for the first time since 2017.

Satellite imagery indicates North Korea is preparing to conduct a nuclear test, and the United has warned this could come as soon as this month.

"There is a possibility of delaying the nuclear test in order to focus on overcoming the coronavirus," Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, told AFP.

But he said if public fears over an outbreak were to spread, Kim might go ahead with a test "to divert this fear to another place".

What is inkl?
The world’s most important news, from 100+ trusted global sources, in one place.
Morning Edition
Your daily
news overview

Morning Edition ensures you start your day well informed.

No paywalls, no clickbait, no ads
Enjoy beautiful reading

Content is only half the story. The world's best news experience is free from distraction: ad-free, clickbait-free, and beautifully designed.

Expert Curation
The news you need to know

Stories are ranked by proprietary algorithms based on importance and curated by real news journalists to ensure that you receive the most important stories as they break.

Dive Deeper:
North Korea reports first Covid-19 outbreak, declares emergency
Seoul (AFP) - North Korea has confirmed its first-ever case of Covid-19 and declared a "severe national emergency", with leader…
North Korea Confirms First Covid-19 Death in 'Explosive' Outbreak
North Korea confirmed its first ever Covid-19 death on Friday, saying fever was spreading "explosively" nationwide and tens of thousands…
North Korea confirms first Covid-19 death in 'explosive' outbreak
Seoul (AFP) - North Korea confirmed its first Covid-19 death on Friday, saying fever was spreading "explosively" nationwide and tens of…
6 dead, tens of thousands infected as North Korea reports first COVID outbreak
North Korea says six people have died amid an 'explosive' spread of fever, a day after it acknowledged a COVID-19…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
North Korea reports first COVID outbreak, orders lockdown
Kim Jong Un calls nationwide lockdown to tackle ‘malicious’ virus after BA.2 sub-variant detected in Pyongyang.
North Korea Reports First Covid Cases, Kim Orders National Lockdown
North Korea confirmed its first-ever Covid cases on Thursday and declared a "serious emergency", with leader Kim Jong Un ordering…
Get all your news in one place