North Korea Imposes 5-Day Lockdown in Pyongyang Over ‘Unspecified Illness’

Pyongyang: According to a DPRK government notice, a five-day lockdown has been imposed by North Korean officials for residents of Pyongyang beginning on Wednesday, January 25 owing to “increasing” cases of a respiratory disease. COVID-19 was not mentioned in the notice which said that the illnesses spreading in the capital included the common cold. The warning stated that residents must submit to temperature tests multiple times each day and must remain in their houses through the end of Sunday.

The order was issued a day after several media outlets reported that inhabitants of Pyongyang looked to be stockpiling items after being informed in advance of the impending shutdown. State media has not officially announced the additional measures, thus it is unclear if lockdowns have been imposed in other cities as well. This week, state media issued cold weather advisories as Pyongyang experienced a Tuesday low of -2 F (-19 C).

North Korea claimed in August of last year that it had entirely eradicated COVID-19 from its territory, a claim that was strongly disputed by analysts. When COVID-19 cases first began to spread across the country in early May 2022, a similar announcement did not indicate how long the lockdown would remain; in the end, it was more than two weeks.

Authorities claimed that despite the restrictions, people would continue working at significant factories and construction sites throughout that nationwide shutdown. Later, according to a Pyongyang official, locals were “escaping from seclusion” and “stampeding to pharmacies” due to panic and medication shortages. Authorities reportedly threatened relatives of those found spreading “rumours” about the outbreak and attempting to sell limited medicine on the black market with the death penalty and perhaps expulsion from the city.

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