Korea declares emergency after ‘runaway’ virus defector returns
– North Korean authorities have imposed a lockdown on the border city of
Kaesong after discovering what they called the country’s first suspected case
of the novel coronavirus, state media reported on Sunday.
Leader Kim Jong Un convened an
emergency politburo meeting on Saturday to implement a “maximum emergency
system and issue a top-class alert” to contain the virus, official news
agency KCNA said.
If confirmed, it would be the
first officially recognised Covid-19 case in the North where medical
infrastructure is seen as woefully inadequate for dealing with any epidemic.
KCNA said a defector who had left
for the South three years ago returned on 19 July after “illegally
crossing” the heavily fortified border dividing the countries.
But there have been no reports in
the South of anyone leaving through what is one of the world’s most secure
borders, replete with minefields and guard posts.
Pyongyang has previously insisted
not a single case of the coronavirus had been seen in the North despite the
illness having swept the globe, and the country’s borders remain closed.
The patient was found in Kaesong
City, which borders the South, and “was put under strict quarantine”,
as would anybody who had come in close contact, state media said.
It was a “dangerous
situation… that may lead to a deadly and destructive disaster”, the
media outlet added.