North Korea reports first coronavirus outbreak

North Korea reports first coronavirus outbreak

North Korea officially declared its first COVID 19 outbreak on Thursday and ordered a national lock down, with state media reporting that a sub-variant of the highly transmissible Omicron virus had been detected in the city of Pyongyang.

The KCNA news agency said there was the biggest emergency situation 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.

The report said people in Pyongyang had contracted the Omicron variant, but they didn't provide any details on case numbers or possible sources of infection. It said samples of the infected people were collected on May 8.

The report was published as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un chaired a Workers' Party meeting to discuss responses to the first outbreak of the coronaviruses.

Kim ordered all cities and counties of the country to strictly lock down their regions in order to prevent the spread of the coronaviruses, and said emergency reserve medical supplies would be mobilised, according to KCNA.

Although the North has never confirmed a single coronaviruses in the country, officials in South Korea and the United States have cast doubts, especially as cases of the Omicron variant have been widely reported in neighbouring South Korea and China.

North Korea has withdrawn shipments of vaccine from the COVAX global COVID 19 vaccine-sharing programme and the Sinovac Biotech vaccine from China.

Kim told the Workers' Party meeting that the latest emergency quarantine system's purpose is to control and manage the spread of the coronaviruses and quickly heal infected people to eliminate the source of transmission in the shortest time, KCNA said.

A South Korea-based website that monitors activities in Pyongyang said this week that residents were told to return home and stay indoors because of a national problem, but didn't offer any details.

Chinese state television reported that North Korea has required its people to stay at home since May 11 as many of them have suspected flu symptoms without referring to COVID - 19.