Pyongyang detects first possible COVID-19 case in returnee deserter
(Update 1: adds details)
Seoul, Jul 26 (efe-epa).- North Korea has detected its first “suspicious” case of COVID-19 in a deserter who returned to the country after fleeing to the South, a fact that has led the regime to adopt the “maximum system emergency,” state media reported Sunday.
The possible contagion affects a “runaway” North Korean citizen who arrived on July 19 in the city of Kaesong, bordering the South, after having crossed the militarized border that separates the two countries, according to the North Korean state agency KCNA. .
Faced with this situation, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un chaired a meeting of the North Korean Workers Party (WKP) leadership on the day before, which decided to “completely block” the Kaesong area and move from the “state of emergency against epidemic “to the” maximum emergency system “, according to the KCNA.
The patient was placed under “strict quarantine” after undergoing various medical tests with “uncertain results,” and North Korean authorities have also tested and isolated all people who had contact with him, the state agency added.
“Despite the intense anti-epidemic measures applied in all areas and the strict closure of all routes of entry in the last six months, there has been a critical situation whereby the aggressive virus could have entered the country,” said Kim during the meeting held this Saturday.
The government decided to carry out an “intensive investigation” of the military unit deployed in the border region where the defector crossed from, in order to take “necessary measures” and “administer a severe punishment,” to those responsible for the “illegal” incursion into North Korean territory.
The WPK polit bureau meeting was attended via video conference by the regime’s different organs – including political, military and health officials – and observers from the North Korean emergency anti-epidemic headquarters, KCNA reported.
Meanwhile South Korea said that there were “high chances” that an illegal crossing of the inter-Korean border may have taken place as claimed by Pyongyang, according to an unidentified military official quoted by local news agency Yonhap.
The South Korean joint chiefs of staff is trying to verify details of the incident, and has not yet confirmed if the person who crossed the border was a North Korean defector, the official said.
In addition to the “total blockade” of Kaesong city, where the inter-Korean liaison office was located, which the North destroyed in mid-June in retaliation for the sending of balloon propaganda by activists from the South, Kim ordered “to isolate other districts and regions “of the country as of Saturday.
North Korea had launched its “national emergency system” last January to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in its territory, leading to the complete closure of its land borders.
Although the true situation of the pandemic in the country is unknown, to date the hermetic regime has not officially notified the World Health Organization of any cases of COVID-19 in its territory. EFE-EPA