SEOUL – North Korean chief Kim Jong Un declared an emergency and a lockdown in a border city after an individual suspected of being contaminated with the novel coronavirus returned from South Korea after illegally crossing the border, state media stated on Sunday.
If confirmed, it could be the primary case formally acknowledged by North Korean authorities.
Kim convened an emergency politburo assembly in response to what he referred to as a “crucial scenario wherein the vicious virus could possibly be stated to have entered the nation”, the North’s KCNA state information reported.
An individual who defected to South Korea three years in the past returned throughout the fortified border that divides the 2 Koreas to the city of Kaesong this month with signs of COVID-19, the illness brought on by the virus, KCNA reported.
“An emergency occasion occurred in Kaesong Metropolis the place a runaway who went to the south three years in the past, an individual who’s suspected to have been contaminated with the vicious virus returned on July 19 after illegally crossing the demarcation line,” KCNA stated.
KCNA didn’t say if the individual had been examined, however stated an “unsure outcome was produced from a number of medical check-ups of the secretion of that individual’s higher respiratory organ and blood”, prompting officers to quarantine the individual and examine anybody he could have been in touch with.
One analyst stated the announcement was necessary, not solely as a result of North Korea was for the primary time reporting a suspected coronavirus case but additionally as a result of it urged it was interesting for assist.
“It’s an ice-breaking second for North Korea to confess a case,” stated Choo Jae-woo, a professor at Kyung Hee College.
“It could possibly be reaching out to the world for assist. Maybe for humanitarian help.”
North Korea is underneath large financial strain due to worldwide sanctions over its nuclear program.
Cho Han-bum, a senior fellow on the Korea Institute for Nationwide Unification in Seoul, stated it was important that North Korea was reporting its first suspected coronavirus case was imported.
“North Korea is in such a dire scenario, the place they will’t even end constructing the Pyongyang Common Hospital on time. Pointing the blame at an ‘imported case’ from South Korea, the North can use this as a method to overtly settle for support from the South,” Cho stated.
KCNA didn’t elaborate on how the “runaway” had crossed one of many world’s most closely guarded borders however stated the incident was being investigated and the army unit accountable would face “extreme punishment”.
South Korean officers have been checking to see if a defector had certainly crossed again into the North this month, the South’s Yonhap information company reported.
North Korea has acquired hundreds of coronavirus testing kits from Russia and different nations and imposed strict border closures.
1000’s of individuals in North Korea have been additionally quarantined because it took precautions to forestall a coronavirus outbreak however restrictions had lately been eased.