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The world body has already sent medical supplies to the country, but it has not yet confirmed the nation’s sustained claims that it had no COVID-19 cases. A Who statement read: “WHO is awaiting information from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Ministry of Public Health on the case reported in media.”
It added: “The ministry updates WHO periodically on the measures being taken for COVID-19, with the latest received on 16 July.”
The official Korean Central News Agency reported Sunday that supreme leader Kim Jong Un gathered an emergency summit of his ruling Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee.
The meeting was a response to “a dangerous situation in Kaesong City that may lead to a deadly and destructive disaster.”
The report from the meeting explained that “an emergency event happened in Kaesong City, where a runaway who went to the south three years ago, a person who is suspected to have been infected with the vicious virus returned on July 19 after illegally crossing the demarcation line.”
It added: “The anti-epidemic organisation said that as an uncertain result was made from several medical check-ups of the secretion of that person’s upper respiratory organ and blood, the person was put under strict quarantine as a primary step and all the persons in Kaesong City who contacted that person and those who have been to the city in the last five days are being thoroughly investigated, given medical examination and put under quarantine.”
Mr Kim said the virus “could be said to have entered the country”.
He mandated a total closure of Kaesong and for its districts to be isolated from one another.
The meeting unanimously concurred on “shifting from the state emergency anti-epidemic system to the maximum emergency system.”
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South Korean military officials on Monday announced that a 24-year-old man who had defected from North Korea in 2017 had returned to the rogue state by swimming through a drain on Ganghwa Island.
Both North and South Korean officials separately vowed to discipline their border forces for failing to intercept the man.
North Korea is one of about 12 nations to have recorded no COVID-19 infections.
It was one of the first nations to close its borders with China as the novel virus started to swiftly spread there at the beginning of the year.
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It also took rapid action to prevent contagion within its borders, introducing a stringent lockdown.
But due the country’s highly controlled communication network, the claims could not verified.
The WHO is one of few global health bodies to have open communications with North Korea.
Speaking to Newsweek, a WHO source said: “DPR Korea reports it is taking multiple measures for COVID-19.
”As of 16 July, DPR Korea reported testing 1,211 people for COVID-19. All tested negative.
“It reports that 696 people, all nationals, are under quarantine.”
The WHO said it had previously given North Korea 900 items of personal protection equipment as well as laboratory reagents.
It added that the WHO’s South-East Asia Regional Office sent North Korea primers and probes for polymerase chain reaction devices to provide 1,000 coronavirus tests and that the shipment had already arrived.
The statement claimed Pyongyang was set to receive the supplies next week.
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