North Korea has confirmed its first outbreak of COVID-19, raising fears of a humanitarian disaster as it goes into a nationwide lockdown.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Thursday that authorities detected a sub-variant of the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, BA.2 in Pyongyang.
“There has been the biggest emergency incident in the country, with a hole in our emergency quarantine front, that has been kept safely over the past two years and three months since February 2020", it said.
It added that Kim Jong Un had called on all the cities and counties of the whole country to thoroughly lock down their areas with factories, businesses and homes closed down and reorganized to block the spread vacuum of the virus.
The North, which sealed its borders in January 2020, had been one of the few countries not to report an outbreak of COVID-19.
Analysts said Pyongyang’s public admission of the outbreak was probably a sign of the severity of the situation.
The North has repeatedly rejected offers of vaccines from the United Nations-backed global vaccination initiative, and aid workers have warned that it would struggle to handle a major coronavirus outbreak, given its dilapidated health system.
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