A schoolgirl wearing a mask sanitizes her hands before entering the Kumsong No. 2 High School in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Nov. 3, 2021. (Photo: AP)

for more than two years North Korea did not admit any cases of COVID-19. While the world suffered from the pandemic, the regime of Kim Jong Un he prided himself on his ability to keep the virus out of his borders. At a military parade in 2020, Kim effusively thanked citizens and the military for their efforts to be free of the disease. In another similar parade held a month ago in the capital, none of the thousands of attendees wore a mask.

But the fairy tale came to an end. This Thursday the 12th, North Korea announced its first coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began and imposed a national quarantine. Wearing a mask publicly for the first time, Kim Jong Un he oversaw an emergency meeting of his political bureau and announced the deployment of a “maximum emergency” virus control system in the face of the advance of the omicron variant. The North Korean dictatorurged all cities and counties in the country to completely confine their areas” to avoid new infections.

LOOK: Kim Jong-un ordered total confinement in North Korea after confirming the first outbreak of coronavirus

According to the World Health Organization, From January 3, 2020 to May 11 of this year, the Asian country did not confirm any contagion or death confirmed by the virus or its variantssomething that caused suspicion due to the high transmission of the virus in Asia and the history of little or no transparency of Pyongyang.

The regime made the confinement announcement after specialized media such as affirm, citing local sources, that on May 10 a confinement had been suddenly decreed in Pyongyang.

For its part, the South Korean Ministry of Unification explained in a letter sent to the EFE agency that its position is to cooperate “on a humanitarian level at all times” on health matters with the North and its residents. China also offered to help North Korea to fight the coronavirus.

A schoolgirl wearing a mask sanitizes her hands before entering the Kumsong No. 2 High School in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Nov. 3, 2021. (Photo: AP) / Cha Song Ho

On disadvantage

Concerns about the virus in North Korea they are not free. Experts believe that the country has not vaccinated any of its 25 million inhabitants.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the regime of Kim Jong Un he had rejected vaccination offers from China, but also from Russia and the World Health Organization. In addition, the poor health system in the country makes it difficult to deal with a large outbreak of COVID-19.

The danger posed by an outbreak is greater in North Korea than in most other nations because the majority of its inhabitants are not vaccinated. Outside health experts have long questioned the North’s ability to combat a large-scale outbreak, even though its regime is capable of imposing totalitarian control over the movement of residents.”, says the newspaper “”.

The outlet adds that if not brought under control quickly, the outbreak could further affect the economy of the isolated country, which had already been hit hard by years of international sanctions and its decision two years ago to close its border with China, its only partner. important commercial, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

It could also affect the leader’s efforts Kim Jong Un to expand its nuclear arsenal” as quickly as possible”, analysts said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recognizes the officers and soldiers who participated in the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army, in North Korea.  (Photo: AP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recognizes the officers and soldiers who participated in the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, in North Korea. (Photo: AP) / Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP,

worse than feared

There is also the fact that, with a tradition of little transparency, the situation of the pandemic in North Korea It could be much worse than what the authorities report.

For more than two years, North Korea has claimed, rather dubiously, not to have a single case of COVID-19. So why admit it now? It is most likely because this outbreak is too serious and too difficult to hide.”says in the Jean Mackenzie, correspondent for that medium in South Korea.

He adds that without vaccinations, poor health care, and a limited ability to test people, treatment options North Korea They are very limited at the moment. “The authorities have clearly decided that they have no choice but to shut down the country. To do this, they simply have to tell people and the rest of the world. It does not necessarily mean that they will be more willing to accept outside help.”, he points.

Among the known measures is that at the beginning of 2020, the country had chosen to close its borders even more hermetically and return foreigners, including diplomats, to their homes.

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