The North Korean authorities put a lockdown on the border town of Kaesong after finding what they called the country’s first alleged case of a novel coronavirus, state media announced on Sunday. Leader Kim Jong Un called an emergency politburo meeting on Saturday to enact a “full emergency system and issue a top-class warning” to contain the virus, according to the official news agency KCNA.
Previously, Pyongyang maintained that no single case of coronavirus had been detected in the North, given the epidemic that had ravaged the globe, and the borders of the country remained closed. The patient was found in Kaesong City, which borders the South, and “was placed under strict quarantine,” as anyone who had come in close contact would have said in the state media.
The nuclear-armed North closed its borders at the end of January as the virus spread to neighboring China and imposed severe restrictions that isolated thousands of its people, but analysts say that the North is unlikely to avoid contagion. Earlier this month, Kim warned against any “hasty” relaxation of anti-coronavirus measures, indicating that the country will keep its borders closed in the foreseeable future.