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North Korea confirms COVID-19 outbreak, imposes nationwide lockdown

CA, 13 May 2022
North Korea ordered a nationwide lockdown on Thursday after confirming its first acknowledged COVID-19 outbreak, after holding for more than two years a claim of a perfect record keeping out the virus. According to reports early Friday, the country also reported its first confirmed COVID-19 death, after state media said hundreds of thousands have shown fever symptoms.

The scale of transmissions is unknown, but it forced leader Kim Jong Un to be seen wearing a mask in public for the first time, though state media said it was the Omicron variant that had been detected. Some experts, including Hong Min with the Korea Institute for National Reunification, say the admission of an outbreak may be in an effort to seek outside aid.

"They may have disclosed (the confirmed cases) intentionally now to open possible options such as reconsidering getting them (vaccines) which were allocated by COVAX or receiving international aid," he said.
It comes even as U.S. and South Korean officials are warning the country could conduct its first nuclear test since 2017 as early as this month.

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