North Korea has announced a national emergency after its first officially acknowledged Covid-19 outbreak, imposing tough quarantine measures after long claiming to have kept cases at zero throughout the pandemic.
The ruling Workers’ Party of Korea “discussed the problem of coping with the quarantine crisis” during a meeting on Thursday, the state-run KCNA reported, with officials noting the country is currently seeing its “most severe national emergency incident” since the global health crisis kicked off in late 2019.
“The Politburo recognized that it was necessary to transition the national quarantine system to the maximum emergency quarantine system in response to the current situation,” the outlet continued, adding that party leaders “criticized the ignorance, laxity, irresponsibility and incompetence of the quarantine sector, which failed to respond sensitively to the increasing number of mutated virus infections worldwide.”
Samples collected from patients in Pyongyang were confirmed to carry the Omicron BA.2 subvariant of the coronavirus, officials said, now thought to be the dominant strain in some countries. The number of infections was not disclosed.