(BBC): For almost two-and-a-half years, North Korea has stuck to its claim it has seen no cases of Covid-19. Not any more.
This week, the country confirmed its first infections. The highly reclusive nation had responded to the pandemic by closing its borders, although few believed it had really managed to escape the virus.
Now, the authorities are not only acknowledging the virus’ presence but declaring an all-out battle to control it, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un calling it the “greatest turmoil” to fall on the nation since its founding. A national lockdown is in place.
Hardly anywhere in the world is untouched by Covid. Cases have been recorded at the base camp of Everest and in Antarctica. Individual nations’ responses to the pandemic have varied in severity, but have broadly meant vaccine programmes, testing, social distancing and limits on travel.
How the pandemic in North Korea will unfold is likely to remain murky, given the nation’s secrecy.
There are fears Covid could be disastrous there. “I’m really concerned about how many people are going to die,” said one of the experts who spoke to the BBC.