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North Korea confirms first COVID-19 outbreak

Kim Jong Un wears a face mask during a meeting with the Workers' Party on Thursday. Associated Press via North Korea's KRT

North Korea confirms first COVID-19 outbreak

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un donned a face mask as he convened with members of the Workers’ Party to coordinate a pandemic response Thursday. The official news agency said test samples collected Sunday from an unconfirmed number of people in Pyongyang returned positive for the omicron variant of the coronavirus. Authorities imposed a nationwide lockdown, and Kim called for heightened disinfection efforts at homes and workplaces and asked health workers to reserve medical supplies.

Is this the country’s first outbreak? North Korea insisted it had not recorded any COVID-19 infection after imposing extreme border closures at the start of the pandemic. The nation of about 26 million people has a poorly resourced healthcare system. Seoul’s Unification Ministry said South Korea is ready to offer medical support and other humanitarian assistance to North Korea.

Dig deeper: From the WORLD archive, read Kyle Ziemnick’s report in The Sift on a suspected COVID-19 infection in North Korea.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD’s Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University–Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria.



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