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North Korea is locking the border city because of fear of the first Covid-19 patient

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has locked up a city near the border with South Korea over concerns about the country having its first corona virus case, state media reported.

The measure was taken on Friday afternoon after a Kaesong resident was found with suspected Covid-19 symptoms, according to North Korea’s Central News Agency (KCNA).

It added that the person is a runaway who fled to South Korea years ago before illegally crossing the border with the North early last week.

If that person is officially declared a virus patient, he or she would be the North’s first confirmed coronavirus case, with the country steadfastly saying it doesn’t have a single virus case in its territory, a claim questioned by outside experts.

The news agency said respiratory excretion and blood tests showed that the person is “suspected of being infected” with the virus.

It said the suspected case and others in contact, as well as those who have been in Kaesong for the past five days, have been quarantined.

North Korea described its antivirus efforts as a “matter of national existence”, nearly all cross-border traffic earlier this year, banning foreign tourists and mobilizing health workers to quarantine anyone with symptoms.

Earlier this month, Mr. Kim urged officials to remain alert to the coronavirus threat, warning that complacency threatens an “unimaginable and irreparable crisis”.