Masks return in North Korea in renewed fight against COVID-19

SEOUL, Oct 2 (Yonhap) – Masks appeared to have returned to North Korea in October, with the country’s public health experts advising people to don a face shield to protect against a potential resurgence of COVID-19. The official Korean Seoul-monitored Central News Agency (KCNA) on Sunday released photos of elderly people wearing masks while attending celebrations marking International Day of Elderly the day before, reporting on the 76th anniversary of the founding of the Kim- ll-sung university. Elderly people in North Korea attend a celebration of International Elderly Day in Pyongyang on October 1, 2022, in this photo released by the North’s official Korean Central news agency on October 2, 2022. (Yonhap)

Masks appeared to have made a comeback in North Korea in October, with the country’s public health experts advising people to don a face shield to protect against a potential resurgence of COVID-19.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which is monitored in Seoul, on Sunday released photos of elderly people wearing masks while attending celebrations marking International Day of Elderly the previous day.

Korea Central Television also showed footage of university students wearing masks in its report marking the 76th founding anniversary of Kim ll-sung University.

North Korea had previously lifted all indoor and outdoor mask mandates. Photos or broadcast recordings by his state media showed people without masks at schools or big festivals in September.

However, on September 8, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un advised people to start putting on masks again in November as immunity levels could drop with the temperature drop at this time of year.

But about two weeks later, KCNA reported that experts are recommending people to protect their faces starting in October.

The North announced its first COVID-19 case on May 12, after claiming to be coronavirus-free for over two years, and immediately declared a “maximum emergency” virus control system.

Then, on August 11, Kim declared victory against the virus, saying Pyongyang’s anti-epidemic measures had successfully protected its people.

However, in an editorial published on Sunday, the north’s main newspaper Rodong Sinmun urged people to remain vigilant and not let their efforts to keep the virus at bay go to waste.

Seoul’s national intelligence agency told the parliamentary intelligence committee on Wednesday that North Koreans living in the border region had recently been vaccinated and Pyongyang had tightened its quarantine measures, making North Korea’s declaration of victory over COVID-19 difficult to believe. (Yonhap)

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