North Korea Gives All-Clear on New Cases

Experts are skeptical all 30,000 people tested were free of infection
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 22, 2021 5:06 PM CDT
North Korea Tells WHO Tests Found No New Cases
People walk in the street in front of the Pyongyang Railway Station on Saturday in North Korea's capital.   (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)

North Korea has informed the World Health Organization that 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 June 4-10, of which 149 had 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, the AP reports, 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 barred 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 program. 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.

(More North Korea stories.)

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