North Korea ordered a nationwide lockdown on Thursday after reporting its first coronavirus infection, the North Korea News reported. In January 2020, it was one of the first nations to close its borders to prevent the spread of the virus.

For two years, North Korea has claimed that not a single case of coronavirus was reported among its population. As of March 31, according to the World Health Organisation, 64,207 North Koreans have been tested for Covid-19. They all tested negative. However, observers believe that the virus has been present in the country, the BBC reported.

On Thursday, North Korea announced the lockdown after a politburo meeting headed by the country’s leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday. They discussed “maximum emergency” preventive Covid-19 measures, the North Korea News reported. Health workers have been asked to disinfect homes and workplaces and mobilise reserve medical supplies, the Associated Press reported.

It is crucial to stop the spread of the coronavirus and eliminate the infection source as soon as possible, without causing much inconvenience to the public, Kim Jong Un said.

The case was reported on May 8. It is of the contagious Omicron variant.

None of the 2.6 crore people of North Korea has been vaccinated, according to the World Health Organisation.

The government turned down AstraZeneca vaccines from Covax, the global vaccination distribution programme. Experts attribute the reason to be because of its international monitoring requirements, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, humanitarian aid from across the world will not be linked to the current political situation in North Korea, the South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol’s office told Reuters.

Kwon Young-se, Yoon’s nominee for unification minister responsible for inter-Korean ties, said that South Korea will prepare humanitarian aid for the North, including Covid-19 treatment kits, syringes and other medical supplies.