Fri | Jul 30, 2021

North Korea tells WHO it has detected no virus cases

Published:Tuesday | June 22, 2021 | 11:39 AM
An employee of the beverage maker Suntory receives a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shot at their office building as the company began its workplace vaccination Monday, June 21, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea has told the World Health Organization it tested more than 30,000 people for the coronavirus through June 10 but has yet to find a single infection.

The WHO said in a monitoring report Tuesday that North Korea's testing figures included 733 people who were tested during June 4 -10, of which 149 were with influenza-like illnesses or severe respiratory infections.

Experts widely doubt North Korea's claim that it has not had a single case of the virus, given its poor health infrastructure and porous border with China, its major ally and economic lifeline.

Describing its anti-virus efforts as a “matter of national existence,” the North has banned tourists, jetted out diplomats, and severely restricted cross-border traffic and trade.

The self-imposed lockdown has caused further strain on an economy already battered by decades of mismanagement and crippling US-led sanctions over the country's nuclear weapons programme.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a political conference last week called for officials to brace for prolonged COVID-19 restrictions, indicating that the country isn't ready to open its borders anytime soon.

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com or editors@gleanerjm.com.