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North Korea claims it’s developed its own PCR equipment to test for Covid as it continues to report zero-case tally

On Monday, state-run outlet Rodong Sinmun revealed that Pyongyang had developed “a real-time PCR facility with key characteristic indicators” that are of “world-level” standard, a first-of-its-kind invention for the isolated nation.

North Korea has screened some 36,600 members of its population for coronavirus infection, conducting almost 700 PCR tests for healthcare workers and people with flu-like illnesses or respiratory infections during the period from August 5-12.

Pyongyang continues to uphold that North Korea is a coronavirus-free country, reporting to the World Health Organization (WHO) that, as of August 12, the state has not registered a single Covid-19 case since the start of the pandemic. However, neighboring South Korea and the US have previously questioned the validity of its zero-case tally.

According to a just-published report from the South Korean think tank, the Institute for National Security Strategy, North Korea rejected an opportunity to import nearly two million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca formula, through the vaccine-sharing scheme, over concerns about the jab’s rare but potentially fatal blood-clotting side effects.

Earlier in the summer, leader Kim Jong-un warned that the country was facing a “great crisis” and dismissed officials for having “neglected the implementation of the important decisions” that would guarantee “the security of the state and safety of the people” in handling the Covid pandemic.

The secretive state sealed tight its border with China in January 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic to avoid cases seeping in. Travel restrictions and other preventative measures were also implemented in a bid to contain the virus’ spread.

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