North Korea has ordered a five-day lockdown in Pyongyang, the country’s capital, for “respiratory ailments”, media reported Wednesday (25), the first lockdown in the city since the government declared victory over the covid-19 in August last year.
Pyongyang residents were ordered to stay indoors from Wednesday to Sunday and must undergo several daily temperature checks, Seoul-based news website NK News reported, citing a notice from the North’s government.
The warning does not mention covid-19, but indicates that among the ailments spreading through the capital is the common flu.
The government order was issued a day after NK News reported that residents of North Korea’s largest city appeared to be stockpiling food in anticipation of the lockdown.
It was unclear whether other parts of the country faced similar measures and state media did not announce such actions.
The Korean peninsula is currently facing a cold snap, with temperatures of -22°C in Pyongyang.
North Korea has maintained a strict blockade since the start of the pandemic, although it allows some trade with China. It acknowledged its first outbreak of covid-19 in April last year, but proclaimed victory over the coronavirus soon after, which it called a “miracle”.
However, experts and the World Health Organization (WHO) question North Korea’s covid-19 statistics. The country has one of the worst health systems in the world, with poorly equipped hospitals, few intensive care units and a lack of coronavirus drugs