North Korea says leader Kim Jong Un has placed the city of Kaesong near the South Korean border under lockout due to coronavirus problems

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has placed the city of Kaesong near the South Korean border under total blockade after a person was found with suspected COVID-19 symptoms, saying he believes that “the virus vicious “may have entered the country, state media reported Sunday.

If the person is officially declared a patient with a virus, it will be the first confirmed in the North coronavirus Pencil case. North Korea he firmly stated that he did not have a single virus case on his territory, a claim questioned by outside experts.

The blockade was declared Friday afternoon. The Korean central news agency said the suspect case is an escape that fled to South Korea years ago before illegally crossing the northern border earlier last week.

KCNA said respiratory secretion and blood tests showed that the person “is suspected of having been infected” with the virus. He said the suspect case and others who were in contact, as well as those who had been in Kaesong for the past five days, were placed under quarantine.

Describe your anti-virus efforts as a “national existence issue”, North Korea earlier this year it closed nearly all cross-border traffic, banned foreign tourists and mobilized health workers to quarantine anyone with symptoms. But the Kaesong blockade is the first known measure taken in a North Korean city to stem the pandemic.

Foreign experts say that a coronavirus outbreak in North Korea could cause serious consequences due to its poor public health infrastructure and chronic lack of medical supplies.

Kaesong, a city with about 200,000 inhabitants, is located just north of the heavily fortified land border with South Korea. It once housed the industrial complex jointly managed by the Koreas, which has remained stuck since 2016 under nuclear tensions. Last month, North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong to protest a campaign of South Korean activists who sent anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

During an emergency Politburo meeting on Saturday, Kim also declared a state of emergency in the Kaesong area and “clarified the Party Central Committee’s determination to move from the state emergency anti-epidemic system to the maximum emergency system and issue an alarm of first class, “said KCNA.

He quoted Kim as saying that “there was a critical situation in which the vicious virus could be said to have entered the country.” Kim said he had taken “the preventative measure of totally blocking the city of Kaesong and isolating each district and region from the other within the afternoon of July 24, immediately after receiving the report,” according to KCNA.

The Politburo meeting also discussed “loose guards performances” in the border area where the suspected case went to North Korea.

KCNA said Kim and other leaders were informed of the results of an in-depth investigation by a military unit responsible for the border crossing case and discussed the handling of “severe punishment”.

More than 33,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea in the past 20 years to avoid poverty and political repression, mainly across the long and porous border with China. But it is rare for North Korea refugees to return home by crossing the inter-Korean border littered with mines.

The South Korean government has no immediate comment on the North Korean announcement.

“Blaming an alleged defector of repatriation for bringing COVID-19 to the country is likely to shift the blame for the spread of the virus from China and Pyongyang to Seoul,” said Leif-Eric Easley, professor at Seoul’s Ewha University. .

“This could also be a tactic to increase diplomatic pressure on (South Korea) and try to further dissuade North Koreans from defecting to the south,” he said.

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