North Korea blames ‘alien things’ and balloons from south for surge in COVID-19 cases

According to the report, North Korea has bizarrely told people in the country that Covid patients had touched “alien things coming by wind” as it attempted to blame the South for the virus. North Korea reported 4,570 more people with fever symptoms on Friday, with the total number of fever patients recorded since late April at 4.74 million.

Citizens were urged to be vigilant around objects that may have blown across the border from the South.

For years activists in the South have flown balloons across the border to send leaflets and humanitarian aid.

In response, Seoul says there is “no possibility” Covid could have crossed the border in that way.

According to North Korea’s state media, an official investigation found two people who became infected with Covid early on in the outbreak after coming into contact with unidentified materials near the South Korean border.

An 18-year-old soldier and 5-year-old child tested positive for the virus in early April after finding the objects on a hill in Ipho-ri, it reported.

Since then, state media said: “The malignant COVID-19 virus…has rapidly spread in the DPRK [North Korea].”

As a result of the investigation, people in the country are instructed to “vigilantly deal with alien things coming by wind and other climate phenomena and balloons in the areas along the demarcation line and borders”.

Anyone who notices a strange object is instructed to report it immediately so it can be swiftly removed by an emergency anti-epidemic team.

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Its population of 25 million is vulnerable due to the lack of a vaccination programme and poor healthcare system, although in recent weeks there have been media reports that Pyongyang has accepted an offer of Chinese-manufactured vaccines.

It’s not clear how many North Koreans, if any, have so far been vaccinated.

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