Unvaxxed North Korea locks down after reporting first COVID infection

The Omicron variant was detected May 8 in Pyongyang, and the Politburo of the country’s ruling Workers’ Party passed a resolution to implement an emergency anti-epidemic system, according to a Thursday report in state media.

Since the start of the pandemic, North Korea has claimed it had zero Covid-19 cases despite having tested tens of thousands of people. North Korean authorities found their first local Covid-19 case after collecting samples from patients with fevers in Pyongyang, according to the report.

North Korea is particularly vulnerable to the pandemic, owing to poor healthcare infrastructure and widespread malnourishment. The country has rejected nearly two million Covid-19 vaccines promised by the Covax initiative, a program financed mostly by Western governments to help lower-income countries with inoculations.

North Korea is one of only two countries that hasn’t yet administered vaccines to its people, according to the World Health Organization. It has kept its borders mostly closed since January 2020, when neighboring countries began reporting Covid-19 cases.

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