North Korea locks down Pyongyang over ‘respiratory illness’ – report

Authorities in North Korea’s capital Pyongyang have ordered a five-day lockdown amid rising cases of an unspecified respiratory illness, Seoul-based NK News reported on Wednesday, citing a government release.

The notice made no mention of COVID-19, but said residents of the city must remain in their homes until the end of Sunday and undergo temperature checks several times a day, according to NK News, which monitors North Korea.

On Tuesday, the website reported that Pyongyang residents appeared to be stocking up on goods in anticipation of tougher measures. It is unclear if other areas of the country have imposed new lockdowns.

North Korea admitted its first COVID-19 outbreak last year but had declared victory over the virus by August.

The mysterious country has never confirmed how many people have contracted COVID, apparently because it lacks the resources to conduct widespread testing.

Instead, it reported daily numbers of patients with fevers, a number that rose to about 4.77 million, out of a population of about 25 million. But it hasn’t reported such cases since July 29.

State media have continued to report on anti-pandemic measures to combat respiratory diseases, including the flu, but have yet to report on the lockdown order.

On Tuesday, state news agency KCNA said the city of Kaesong, near the border with South Korea, has stepped up public communication campaigns “so that all working people voluntarily comply with anti-epidemic regulations in their work and life.”

© Thomson Reuters 2023.

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