Thursday, 20 Jan 2022

North Koreans warned over Omicron dangers despite claiming ‘zero Covid cases’

North Korea is warning people over the dangers of Omicron, the new Covid variant, but still vows it's never had a single coronavirus case.

The state has said it's ramped up testing but has not had a reported case since the start of the pandemic almost two years ago.

The state informed the United Nations health agency it remains free of the virus after screening an additional 1,421 people, writes NK News.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea conducted PCR tests during a two-week period in November, covering people with flu-like symptoms.

State media has called for stricter measures to combat the new Omicron variant.

As it maintains it's had no positive Covid cases, the country has taken more drastic measures previously adopted in other epidemic outbreaks.

North Koreans suffered long periods of hardship after the 1990s famine.

It comes as North Koreans head into a 'tense' winter, with borders still closed with neighbouring China and food supplies in doubt.

The border was closed in a lockdown last year in a bid to prevent Covid from entering the country but has left the state with a damaged economy and reports of food prices surging.

Despite the chronic food shortage and limited trade data, Kim has emphasised self-reliance during the crisis.

Urging North Korea to reopen its economy gradually, U.N. Special Rapporteur Tomás Ojea Quintana wrote in an October report: “People’s access to food is a serious concern, and the most vulnerable children and elderly are at risk of starvation.”

It's said a lack of imported fertilisers and farming materials has had an impact on harvest.

Back in June, leader Kim Jong-un told the country the food situation was "tense", and in late October, the country revealed plans to bread black swan as a way to make up the food shortages – telling people the meat "is delicious and has medicinal value."

“North Korea went out of the way to stabilize food prices amid the disastrous economy. The rice price was stable on the surface because of heavy state interventions … and unofficial receipt of Chinese aids," said Cho Han-bum, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, a government-funded think tank in Seoul.

"However, we do not know for how much longer it can hold."

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