North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered the distribution of aid to the border city of Kaesong after the area was locked down last month to fight the coronavirus, state media said Sunday.
Authorities raised the state of emergency to the maximum level for the city in July, saying they had discovered the country’s first suspected virus case.
A train carrying goods arrived in the “totally blocked” city of Kaesong on Friday, the official KCNA news agency reported.
“The Supreme Leader has made sure that emergency measures were taken for supplying food and medicines right after the city was totally blocked and this time he saw to it that lots of rice and subsidy were sent to the city,” it said.
Kim had been concerned “day and night” about people in Kaesong as they continue their “campaign for checking the spread of the malignant virus”, the report added.
Last month, Pyongyang said a defector who had left for South Korea three years ago returned on July 19 by “illegally crossing” the heavily fortified border dividing the two countries.
The man showed symptoms of coronavirus and was put under “strict quarantine”, authorities said, but the North has yet to confirm whether he tested positive.
If confirmed, it would be the first officially recognised case of COVID-19 in North Korea, where medical infrastructure is seen as woefully inadequate to deal with any epidemic.
The nuclear-armed North closed its borders in late January as the virus spread in neighbouring China.
It imposed tough restrictions that put thousands of people into isolation, but analysts say the country is unlikely to have avoided the contagion.
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