North Korea imposes 5-day lockdown on capital to fight 'respiratory illness'

North Koreans walk in Pyongchang.
North Koreans walk in Pyongchang. AP Photo/Cha Song Ho

North Korea on Wednesday implemented a temporary, five-day lockdown on its capital city amid an increase in "recurrent flu and other respiratory diseases," per a North Korean government notice posted on the Facebook account of the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang.

According to the notice, the government had imposed a "special anti-epidemic period" until Sunday, during which time foreign delegations are to keep their employees inside, have their temperatures taken four times a day, and call those results in to the hospital. On Thursday, the nation's state media said officials were taking measures to "cope with the daily-worsening world health crisis."

Per The New York Times, Wednesday's government notice failed to mention COVID-19, which the North purports to have eradicated after its first outbreak last year. But outsiders are understandably skeptical of such a claim, considering the poor health of the country's "chronically malnourished people" and the government's continued emphasis on pandemic mitigation tactics, the Times continues. Not to mention the fact that, given its isolation, the nation lacks enough test kits, supplies, or labs to successfully follow or fight an outbreak.

At this point, it is unclear whether the lockdowns extend beyond Pyongyang or are contained to the capital.

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