North Korea blames ‘alien thing’ near southern border for Kovid outbreak

North Korea blames 'alien thing' near southern border for Kovid outbreak
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SEOUL, July 1 (Reuters) – North Korea on Friday claimed that the country’s first COVID-19 outbreak began with patients touching “alien objects” near the South Korean border, apparently blaming a neighbor for the wave of infection in isolated areas. Country

Announcing the results of an investigation, the northern people were instructed to “deal with wind and other climate events and alien objects arriving by balloons in the area along the border line and the border with caution,” the official KCNA news agency said.

The agency did not directly mention South Korea, but North Korean defectors and activists have been flying balloons, carrying leaflets and humanitarian aid across the heavily guarded border from the South for decades.

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South Korea’s unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said there was “no possibility” of the virus entering the north through leaflets sent across the border.

According to KCNA, an 18-year-old soldier and a five-year-old kindergartener who came in contact with unknown material “in a hill around a barracks and residential quarters” in the eastern county of Kumgang in early April showed symptoms and later tested positive. Coronavirus.

KCNA said that all the other fevers reported in the country till mid-April were due to other diseases, but did not elaborate.

“The chances of the virus spreading to objects are very low, and it’s hard to believe North Korea’s claim,” said Yang Mu-jin, a professor at North Korean Studies University in Seoul.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk of infecting people with contaminated surfaces or objects is generally considered low, although it is possible.

The North added that the first two patients had touched unspecified objects in the eastern city in early April, but first reported that balloons were sent across the border from the western Gimpo region in late April this year. Read more

The first acknowledgment of the North Kovid outbreak came just months after border locks were relaxed from early 2020 to shorten freight train operations with China.

But it was difficult for Pyongyang to point the finger at China, said Lim Yul-Chul, a professor at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies at Qingnam University.

“If they conclude that the virus came from China, North Korea-China trade will have to tighten segregation in their border areas to further jeopardize it,” Lim said.

The North claims that the Covid wave has shown signs of subsidizing, although experts suspect under-reporting of figures published through government-controlled media.

North Korea reported 4,570 more people with fever symptoms on Friday, bringing the total number of fever patients recorded since the end of April to 4.74 million.

Pyongyang is announcing the number of fever patients every day, not to mention whether they were infected with COVID, apparently due to a lack of test kits.

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Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi and Josh Smith; Edited by Leslie Adler, Richard Chang and Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our value: Thomson Reuters Trust Policy.

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