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North Korea reports first positive Covid-19 case, declares emergency

© KCNA via Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a military parade to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army. Photo undated.

North Korea has confirmed its first-ever case of Covid-19 and declared a “severe national emergency”, with leader Kim Jong Un vowing to “eliminate” the virus, state media said Thursday.

The impoverished, nuclear-armed country has never admitted to a case of Covid-19, with the government imposing a rigid coronavirus blockade of its borders since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

But samples taken from patients sick with fever in the capital were “consistent with” the virus’ highly transmissible Omicron variant, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

Top officials, including leader Kim Jong Un, held a crisis politburo meeting to discuss the outbreak and announced they would implement a “maximum emergency” virus control system.

Kim told the meeting that “the goal was

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