Pyongyang lifts respiratory illness-related lockdown

Seoul, Jan 30 (EFE).- North Korea has lifted a five-day lockdown imposed in Pyongyang due to rising cases of unspecified respiratory illness, according to the Russian embassy on Monday.

On its Facebook page, the Russian embassy shared an official letter from the North Korean government to international delegations on its decision to end the lockdown on Monday, and expressing “gratitude to the foreign diplomatic corps for faithfully implementing the latest strong quarantine measures.”

The North Korean authorities ordered a five-day lockdown on Jan. 25, subject to a three-day extension depending on the evolution of the situation.

The note urged citizens to remain in their homes until this past Sunday and to report body temperatures to the authorities due to an increase in cases of seasonal flu and other respiratory diseases, although it did not expressly mention Covid-19.

In August 2022, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un declared “victory” over Covid, a claim that was questioned by many experts due to the conditions of the impoverished and isolated country’s health system and its lack of vaccines and testing, among other factors.

Kim then ordered the lifting of the most severe anti-epidemic measures – just three months after the country officially reported its first case of coronavirus.

The regime said that during that period some 4.7 million people (20 percent of the population) had a fever and that just over 20 died, data that does not match the evolution of the pandemic in other countries, and that has led to specialists to suspect that some of the cases recorded as suspected Covid could have been typhoid fever.

Last week, shortly before announcing this latest lockdown, North Korean state television broadcast a documentary extolling the national management of the pandemic.

The broadcast, focused on “the great victory of the quarantine” that was applied in the country during the crisis, reviewed everything from containment measures to testimonials from survivors of the “fever” that spread there in 2022. EFE


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