North Korea declares high alert as ‘first suspected coronavirus case’

North Korea declares high alert as 'first suspected coronavirus case'
Kim says North Korea's nuclear weapons guarantee its safety. Source AP
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Daily US Times: North Korea has reported it’s first suspected case of coronavirus. KCNA, the State news agency, said a person who defected to South Korea three years ago last week returned across the demarcation line had Covid-19 symptoms.

The country’s leader Kim Jong-un held an emergency meeting with top officials, imposing a lockdown in the border city of Kaesong.

The secretive state had earlier said it had no Covid-19 cases – but analysts say this was unlikely to believe.

KCNA said: “An emergency event happened in Kaesong city where a runaway who went to the south three years ago, a person who is suspected to have been infected with the vicious virus returned on 19 July after illegally crossing the demarcation line.”

Mr Kim ordered a “maximum emergency system” to contain the virus at Saturday’s politburo meeting.

Mr Kim also launched an investigation into how the person had managed to cross the heavily fortified border, KCNA reports.

Kim ordered an investigation into the military units along the border with South Korea where the person was suspected of crossing.

The North Korean leader also warned those responsible that “a severe punishment” would be administered.

South Korea has not reported of any illegal crossings of the demilitarized border in recent days.

Six months ago, North Korea closed its borders and put thousands of people in isolation, as the virus swept across the globe.

Mr Kim hailed his country’s “shining success” in dealing with Covid-19 earlier this month.

Kim noted that the maximum level of measures against the coronavirus pandemic will be implemented in the country, KCNA reported.

Kaesong – the bordering city – has been closed to entry and exits since Friday after routine checks, and people traveling to and from the city in the last five days have been quarantined, Kim also said.

Pyongyang announced early this year that it suspended all travels with China, and that there was no COVID-19 threat in the country.

The state news agency did not specifically mention whether the individual had been tested but said an “uncertain result was made from several medical check-ups of the secretion of that person’s upper respiratory organ and blood”, prompting officials to quarantine the person. Investigation has launched anyone he may have been in contact with.

North Korea has received thousands of coronavirus testing kits from Russia and other countries and imposed strict border closures. Thousands of people in the country were quarantined, but recently, restrictions had eased.

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