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

Authorities in the North Korean capital Pyongyang have ordered a five-day lockdown due to rising cases of an unspecified respiratory disease, Seoul-based NK News reported on Wednesday, citing a government warning.

The warning did not mention COVID-19, but said residents in the city must stay at home until late Sunday and undergo temperature checks several times a day, according to NK News, which monitors Korea from the North

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

North Korea acknowledged its first outbreak of COVID-19 last year, but had declared victory over the virus in August.

The secretive country has never confirmed how many people caught COVID, apparently because it lacks the means to conduct widespread testing.

Instead, it reported the daily number of patients with fever, a figure that rose to about 4.77 million, out of a population of about 25 million. But he has not reported these cases since July 29.

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

On Tuesday, state news agency KCNA said the city of Kaesong, near the border with South Korea, had stepped up public communication campaigns “because all workers voluntarily observe anti-epidemic rules in their work and life”.

© Thomson Reuters 2023.

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