After Over 2 Years, North Korea Reports A COVID-19 Case

(Photo by STR/KCNA VIA KNS/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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North Korea has declared a “major national emergency” after reporting its first case of COVID-19 nearly two and a half years into the global pandemic.

At least one case of the Omicron variant of the virus has been detected in the capital city of Pyongyang, state media agency KCNA reported Thursday. The case is the first officially reported by the Kim regime, although many experts doubt the country made it so long without letting the virus in.

Dictator Kim Jong Un ordered a lockdown of all North Korean cities Thursday and the distribution of medical supplies that had been saved up for such an event, according to KCNA. The politburo is implementing “maximum” anti-epidemic measures for the emergency, but it is not yet known what specific measures it will take.

Kim promised that the country would overcome the “unexpected” outbreak caused by the “stealth” Omicron variant, according to KCNA. But many are fearing the worst, as it is believed North Korea does not have any COVID-19 vaccines at its disposal, and the country’s fragile healthcare system will not be able to withstand a widespread coronavirus wave. (RELATED: North Korea Takes Credit For Inventing Burritos)

North Korea is eligible to participate in Covax, the United Nations’ international vaccine-sharing program, but in February Covax cut the country’s allotment of vaccines because it had not arranged to receive any shipments. It isn’t clear why Kim has not accepted any shipments of the vaccine. North Korea’s borders have been completely closed since January 2020.

That border closure and draconian lockdown measures are what have allowed the country to keep the virus at bay, at least for the most part, up to this point, according to CNN.