North Korea Officially Confirms First COVID-19 Outbreak

North Korea officially confirmed its first COVID-19 outbreak since the pandemic started, with state media reporting a subvariant of the highly transmissible Omicron virus detected in Pyongyang.

The official KCNA news agency said that people in Pyongyang contracted the BA.2 subvariant, without providing details on the number of cases or sources of infection.

On Thursday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered lockdown measures in the entire country and directed the distribution of medical supplies that the Workers’ Party had reportedly stocked in case of a COVID-19 emergency.

Kim also ordered the country’s politburo to implement a “maximum emergency epidemic prevention system,” KCNA reported, although it is unclear what it involves.

Kim vowed that North Korea would overcome the “unexpected Covid-19 outbreak.” The country has not reported any COVID-19 outbreaks since the pandemic started in 2020.


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