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N. Korea urges antivirus efforts amid apparent preparations for military parade

All News 09:31 January 26, 2023

SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is making all-out antivirus efforts, its official media said Thursday, amid a news report that it has imposed a lockdown on the capital city of Pyongyang apparently ahead of a military parade to mark the army founding anniversary next month.

The Rodong Sinmun, the regime's main newspaper, stressed the need to place the top policy priority on strengthening quarantine efforts, calling on its people to continue fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic with the "greatest sense of vigilance."

"We are making our upmost efforts to maintain and beef up quarantine barriers to prevent any contagious virus from entering our precincts," the paper said. "We are coping with loopholes and spaces that could appear during anti-virus projects."

North Korea observers said the secretive nation seems to be preparing for a military parade on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army on Feb. 8.

The country reported its first case of COVID-19 in May last year, weeks after it held a military parade in Pyongyang on April 25 to celebrate the 90th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army.

The U.S.-based Radio Free Asia reported Thursday that North Korea has blocked access to Pyongyang from Wednesday through Tuesday as COVID-19 infections were confirmed in the capital city.

Citing an "official notice" issued by North Korean authorities, NK News, which specializes in news on the nation, reported the previous day that the country ordered a five-day lockdown on Pyongyang, effective from Wednesday, due to rising cases of "respiratory illness."

The North's leader Kim Jong-un declared victory against the COVID-19 crisis in August last year, but outside experts raised doubts about his claim, given the country's low vaccinations and poor health care system.

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This file photo, carried by North Korea's Central News Agency on Aug. 11, 2022, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presiding over an emergency quarantine meeting the previous day where he declared victory against COVID-19. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

This file photo, carried by North Korea's Central News Agency on Aug. 11, 2022, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presiding over an emergency quarantine meeting the previous day where he declared victory against COVID-19. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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