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Monday February 06, 2023

North Korea locks down capital over ‘respiratory illness’

By AFP
January 26, 2023

SEOUL: North Korea has ordered a five-day lockdown in the capital over “respiratory illness”, a report said on Wednesday, in what appears to be the first citywide restrictions since the country declared victory over Covid-19 in August 2022.

Residents of Pyongyang have been ordered to stay in their homes from Wednesday to Sunday and must submit to multiple temperature checks each day, Seoul-based specialist site NK News reported, citing a government notice.

The notice did not mention Covid but said that the illnesses currently spreading in the capital included the common cold, the report said. The government order comes a day after NK News, citing sources in Pyongyang, reported that people in the city appeared to be stocking up on goods in anticipation of a lockdown.

It is unclear if other areas have imposed similar lockdowns and state media has not announced any new measures. Experts suggested that North Korea´s largest city is likely dealing with the re-emergence of Covid.

“Covid is disappearing and reappearing depending on the temperature, not just in North Korea but around the world,” said Go Myong-hyun, a researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

The Korean peninsula is currently in the grip of what weather forecasters have described as a Siberian cold snap, with temperatures in Pyongyang dropping as low as -22 degrees Celsuis (-7.6 Fahrenheit).

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