North Korea reports “first” coronavirus case

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un convened an emergency anti-epidemic meeting and placed the city of Kaesong on lockdown after a person suspected of having COVID-19 returned from South Korea after illegally crossing the border this month.

The patient is someone who went to the South in 2017 and ‘illegally returned’ on July 19.

If confirmed, it would be the first case officially acknowledged by the North Korean regime, who have so far said the country has no cases of coronavirus.

“An emergency event happened in Kaesong City where a runaway who went to the south three years ago, a person who is suspected to have been infected with the vicious virus returned on July 19 after illegally crossing the demarcation line,” state news agency KCNA said.

KCNA did not specifically mention whether the individual had been tested but said an “uncertain result was made from several medical check-ups of the secretion of that person’s upper respiratory organ and blood,” prompting officials to quarantine the person and investigate anyone he may have been in contact with.

North Korea has received thousands of coronavirus testing kits from Russia and other countries and imposed strict border closures. Thousands of people in North Korea were quarantined, but restrictions had recently eased.