North Korea leader Kim Jong Un declared a lockdown on the border city of Kaesong after someone was discovered showing symptoms of COVID-19.
The lockdown comes after longtime claims by the dictator that North Korea had zero cases of the coronavirus. Kim said that the “vicious virus” may be present within the country’s borders and declared an emergency Friday afternoon local time.
“To tackle the present situation, he declared a state of emergency in the relevant area and clarified the determination of the Party Central Committee to shift from the state emergency anti-epidemic system to the maximum emergency system and issue a top-class alert,” the Korean Central News Agency said.
State media reported Sunday that the suspected patient is believed to be a runaway who fled to South Korea three years ago before illegally returning last week.
North Korea said respiratory secretion and blood tests of the suspected patient showed the person, who has since been quarantined, could be infected with the virus. People who came into contact with the patient and those who have been in Kaesong in the last five days are also being quarantined after being “thoroughly investigated” and “given medical examination.”
If the possible patient is confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, the person will be North Korea’s first reported case.
The coronavirus has infected over 16 million people worldwide.
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