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Covid-19 outbreak in North Korea – What do we know?

On May 13th the first Covid-19 outbreak in North Korea was confirmed, with 6 people confirmed dead and a figure of almost 200,000, now upped to 500,000 now potentially with the virus. What does this mean for the country as whole though and what does it mean for tourism in North Korea?

To read about when North Korea might open to tourism click here.

Covid-19 outbreak in North Korea – What’s the timeline been?

North Korea was the first country in the world to shut its borders and claimed to be Covid-19 free for two years. Now while many exports have disputed this and NKNews even ran a “Covid tracker” there really is no reason to believe that it was present.

In essence the country followed the China model, something we will get onto later and it seemingly worked until now. 

While testing facilities are limited the country has stated that the variant in question is the less serious Omicron, but while things could have been worse, this is also not good news.

Is North Korea vaccinated?

North Korea were offered vaccines from China, as well as from AstraZeneca these were not accepted, nor administered for whatever reason. This means in reality that although the Omicron variant is considered less serious, it is statistically less serious for those who have been vaccinated, as various studies have shown. 

This means that the country is at danger of exhausting its medical facilities, which are provided free due to the nations socialist nature. 

Covid-19 outbreak in North Korea – how are they dealing with it?

Chairman Kim Jong-Un has declared it a national emergency appeared on TV for the first time in a face-mask, as well as declaring it the biggest threat to the state since its foundation. Which when you consider the Korean War, as well as the Arduous March are not exactly light words.

A number of lockdowns and restrictions on meetings have also been announced with him adding that the country needed to emulate China, which has recently locked down a number of cities in the country. 

This is in stark contrast to other countries, such as Cambodia for example which are not only fully open, but essentially are business as normal. 

To read about Cambodia opening to tourism click here

What will happen next and when will the country open to tourism?

With regards to the Covid-19 outbreak in Cambodia and what happens next, sadly no one knows. Alas while nations such as China and North Korea have been successful at keeping the virus at bay, it has also meant that its citizens have not been able to build up any immunity to the virus. 

This will likely mean either the country doubling down on lockdowns, or heading towards some form of herd immunity. As to when it might open to tourism? With it not even being sure when a vaccinated China might open, the question of when and if North Korea does is very much open for debate. We do though as always wish the best for the people of North Korea and sincerely hope thing start to improve as soon as possible. 

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