A report released by the KCNA claims that the COVID outbreak in North Korea can be traced to a soldier and a 5-year-old kindergartener who touched alien things near the South Korean border.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) government recently released a report that claims to have located the first COVID-19 cases to enter the country and linked the outbreak to two young men in the south of the country.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a state-run news organization and television station, released the report on Friday.
“The investigation results showed that several persons coming from the area of Ipho-ri in Kumgang County in Kangwon Province to the capital city in mid-April were in fever,” the report said, according to the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency. “A sharp increase of fever cases was witnessed among their contacts and a group of fevered persons emerged in the area of Ipho-ri for the first time.”
An 18-year-old soldier with the last name Kim and a 5-year-old kindergartener with the last name Wi were the first to catch the mysterious illness, which was eventually determined to be the Omicron B.A.2 subvariant of COVID-19. In early April, they encountered “alien things” close to residential areas in Ipho-Ri, according to the report.
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“With the confirmation of the epidemic inroads course, the State Emergency Epidemic Prevention Headquarters saw to it that an emergency instruction was issued: an instruction stressing the need to vigilantly deal with alien things coming by wind and other climate phenomena and balloons in the areas along the demarcation line and borders and trace their source to the last, strengthen the all-people supervision and report system, in which anyone notifies of alien things instantly after seeing them, and tighten such anti-epidemic measures as making the emergency anti-epidemic teams strictly remove those things,” the report concludes.
The DPRK has been closing its borders since early 2020 in an effort to stop the COVID-19 outbreak that began in neighboring China, but this hasn’t stopped reports about hidden outbreaks from spreading even faster through the Western press.
However, without a widespread vaccination campaign like China’s to go along with the travel ban, the virus spread quickly once it did reach the unvaccinated population. Millions of masks, vaccines, and other safety supplies have now been delivered to the DPRK by Beijing, but Pyongyang continues to refuse help from the US and UN.
In a country of around 25.8 million people, the state epidemic agency has detected more than 4.7 million cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. That day alone, 4,730 new cases were discovered. No data on mortality has been made public, but based on the US death rate of 0.01 percent, the illness likely took the lives of 54,500 people in the DPRK, the majority of whom were old.