North Korea reports the first outbreak of COVID-19, imposes a nationwide blockade

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North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un ordered a nationwide blockade after acknowledging a Covid-19 outbreak in the country for the first time.

The Kingdom of the Hermit had claimed a perfect record in keeping the virus out since the start of the pandemic. The claim has been widely questioned as COVID-19 has spread to almost every place in the world.

Visitors use binoculars to see the North Korean side from the Unification Observatory in Paju, South Korea on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo / Lee Jin-man)

Visitors use binoculars to see the North Korean side from the Unification Observatory in Paju, South Korea on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo / Lee Jin-man)

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It’s unclear how many people have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, but experts warn it could have serious consequences due to the socialist country’s poor health system. Experts say Kim may have made the very unusual admission because she may be seeking outside help.

“For Pyongyang to publicly admit omicron cases, the public health situation must be serious,” said Leif-Eric Easley, professor of international studies at Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul. “This does not mean that North Korea will suddenly be open to humanitarian assistance and take a more conciliatory line towards Washington and Seoul. But the internal public of the Kim regime may be less interested in nuclear or missile tests when the threat is urgent. it concerns the coronavirus rather than a foreign army “.

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A schoolgirl wearing a face mask disinfects her hands before entering Kumsong No. 2 am in Pyongyang, North Korea on November 3, 2021. (AP Photo / Cha Song Ho, File)

Kim was first seen wearing a mask in public for the first time since the start of the pandemic on North Korean state TV on Thursday. Kim took off his mask to speak into a series of microphones. A photo released by the country’s state media showed Kim sitting unmasked around a table with other officials still wearing the masks.

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, attends a meeting of the Ruling Workers Party Central Committee in Pyongyang, North Korea on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (Korean Central News Agency / Service news in Korea via AP)

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, attends a meeting of the Ruling Workers Party Central Committee in Pyongyang, North Korea on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (Korean Central News Agency / Service news in Korea via AP)

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North Korea has maintained strict virus checks at its border for more than two years and has not provided further details on its new block.

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, North Korea imposed a border blockade and increased quarantine measures in an effort to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak.

Kim insisted that the country will surely overcome what he described as an unexpected epidemic because his government and his people are “united as one”.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.