Kim Jung-un orders lockdown as North Korea reports first covid cases

If North Korea fails to bring the outbreak under control, “it could face a serious food crisis and the kind of major confusion we’ve seen in China recently,” Mr Cheong said, referring to the serious problems being caused by the draconian restrictions imposed by China. has imposed on major cities like Shanghai in recent weeks.

Analysts questioned whether the Covid outbreak would affect Mr Kim’s plan to resume nuclear testing. US and South Korean officials last week warned that North Korea could resume such tests this month, possibly around the time President Biden is scheduled to meet South Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul. . 21st of May.

They also questioned whether North Korea would change its policy of not accepting pandemic-related humanitarian aid, including vaccine donations from world health organizations. South Korean officials have hoped that humanitarian shipments, including Covid-19 vaccines, could help restart the stalled dialogue between North Korea and the United States and allies.

Mr Easley, of Ewha Womans University, said North Koreans may be less interested in nuclear or missile testing when the most pressing threat was the coronavirus rather than a foreign military. But Mr Cheong said: “In the wake of the outbreak, the North Korean leadership is likely to try to boost people’s morale through nuclear or missile tests.”

Along with North Korea, Turkmenistan and several small island states such as Tuvalu and Nauru had reported no cases of coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Still, the north had put in place some of the world’s strictest restrictions to keep the virus out.

In 2020, it created a buffer zone along the border with China and issued a shoot-to-kill order to stop unauthorized border crossings, according to South Korean and US officials. Also that year, when a man from South Korea defected to the north, North Korea declared a national emergency for fear he might have introduced the virus. It was also charged with shooting a South Korean fisheries official found adrift in its waters and burning his body for fear of the virus.

North Korea has also been extremely reluctant to use the Covid vaccine. No doses are known to have been imported. The country is also considered one of only two countries in the world to have not embarked on a Covid-19 vaccination initiative, although news reports have suggested that some key figures, such as the top leaders, may have been vaccinated.

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