North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, called an emergency meeting after imposing total lockdown measures on the city of Kaesong when a person there was found with suspected coronavirus symptoms, state media reported Sunday.
It would be the first publicly reported confirmed case in the secretive communist state if the person tests positive. North Korea has repeatedly said it is free of the virus, a claim questioned by outside experts.
At the meeting, Kim called the moment “a critical situation in which the vicious virus could be said to have entered the country,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported.
The lockdown in Kaesong, a city with an estimated population of 200,000 just north of the heavily fortified border with South Korea, began Friday afternoon, KCNA reported.
The suspected virus patient is a runaway who fled to South Korea three years ago before illegally crossing the border into the North early last week, the agency added.
An outbreak in North Korea could cause dire consequences because of its fragile public health care infrastructure and chronic lack of medical supplies, experts have warned.