NORTH Korea has declared a state of emergency after a person suspected of having coronavirus crossed the border from South Korea.
Kim Jong-un called an emergency meeting after the person suspected of having Covid-19 illegally crossed the border, state media said on Sunday.
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Kim’s government has boasted throughout the pandemic that North Korea is coronavirus-free – one of the only countries in the world to record zero cases.
It would be the first case officially acknowledged by North Korean authorities – despite ongoing rumours that coronavirus is rife within the regime’s borders.
North Korea’s leader declared a state of emergency and imposed a lockdown on the border city of Kaesong.
State media reported Kim called it a “critical situation in which the vicious virus could be said to have entered the country”.
The regime adopted the “‘maximum emergency system and issued a top-class alert” to prevent a “deadly and destructive disaster”.
It was claimed a person who defected to South Korea three years ago returned across the border that divides the two nations earlier this month.
The individual was then found to have symptoms consistent with Covid-19 and was quarantined, with North Korean authorities now tracing anyone they had contact with.
South Korea was one of the early nations impacted by coronavirus, with 14,150 cases and 298 deaths.
KCNA reported an “uncertain result was made from several medical check-ups of the secretion of that person’s upper respiratory organ and blood”.
Kaesong has been placed under a “strict quarantine” with Kim describing it as “totally blocked” from the outside world.
North Korea was one of the first countries to seal its borders as it shutdown on January 30 while the coronavirus took hold in China.
North Korea has reportedly introduced draconian measures to stop the coronavirus as it fears being drawn into the pandemic.
Pyongyang has said anyone caught not wearing a face mask will be subjected to three months hard labour.
Kim has only been seen in public a handful of times in 2020 amid rumours of his failing health.
However, speculation has said the despot may simply being hunkering down at his resort in Wonsan to reduce the risk of himself catching coronavirus.
Rumours of Kim’s death ran wild earlier this year, but after he reemerged one theory claimed he had gone into hiding after members of his inner circle had suspected Covid-19.
Kim has hailed North Korea’s efforts to tackle coronavirus as a “shining success” as state media described the fight against the virus as a “matter of national existence”.
Experts however have cast doubt on whether it is possible that North Korea – which shares a large land border with China – could have possibly avoided the virus
North Korea expert Jung H. Pak, a former CIA analyst, has previously said it is “impossible” that North Korea does not have a single case of coronavirus.
And meanwhile, General Robert Abrams – a commander of US Forces Korea – also cast doubt over North Korea’s claims.
He said: “It is a closed-off nation, so we can’t say emphatically that they have cases, but we’re fairly certain they do.”
Various disturbing reports have also emerged from North Korea suggesting there is an ongoing outbreak.
It was reported Kim’s state thugs brutally executed a coronavirus patient for going out in public.
And it has also been reported that at least 180 North Korea soldiers had died of the virus as large swathes of the military are on lockdown.
US officials have also said they are “deeply concerned” about the vulnerability of North Korea to a coronavirus outbreak.
Dr. Kee B. Park, from Harvard Medical School, who has worked to help improve healthcare in North Korea, suggested the reason they have no cases is because they cannot test for coronavirus.
He told the New York Times: “You can see immediately what’s going to happen if you get a surge of Covid-19 patients streaming in.
“It will overwhelm the system very quickly.”
Meanwhile, Seo Jae-pyoung, from the Association of North Korean Defectors, said it was a “blatant lie” that North Korea has no cases of Covid-19.
North Korea has reignited tensions with its neighbour to the South during the pandemic, blowing up a diplomatic office in a stunt to antagonise Seoul.
Tensions still remain in the region as talks on Kim giving up his nukes have stalled despite overtures between him and US President Donald Trump.
President Trump has written to North Korea offering to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
He reportedly praised the dictator for working to defend his people from the outbreak.