North Korea locks down Pyongyang due to ‘respiratory illness’

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North Korean authorities have ordered a lockdown in the nation’s capital city Pyongyang because of the spread of an unspecified respiratory illness, according to a statement released by the Russian embassy in North Korea on Facebook.

The lockdown will last for five days, and could be extended another three days, according to the post, which called for a “special anti-epidemic period” and urged foreign diplomats to remain inside. 

The notice also stated that individuals should take their temperature four times a day and report the results daily to a hospital in Pyongyang. If an individual has a high temperature, they should immediately report to the hospital.

While the notice does not mention any particular illness, such as COVID-19, it does say the city has seen a rise in patients with “recurrent influenza in winter and other respiratory diseases.”

South Korean news outlet NK News first reported the lockdown.

The secretive dictatorship has been guarded about the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on the country. In August, North Korean leader Kim Jung Un said in a speech that the country had “eradicated” the virus, according to state media reports.

While North Korea did not officially report coronavirus cases, it did report cases of people with “fever” symptoms. In 2022 it reported statistics that showed nearly a fifth of its 25 million population had the symptoms, but it has stopped reporting the cases since the end of July.

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