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South Korea’s president said Friday the country would offer to supply North Korea with coronavirus vaccines, according to reports.
A day earlier, North Korea acknowledged the country’s first case of the virus and on Friday said six people had died and at least 350,000 had been infected. Pyongyang called the outbreak “explosive” after it imposed a nationwide lockdown on Thursday.
For more than two years, the isolated and secretive nation has dubiously claimed it has not had any coronavirus cases unlike the rest of the world. COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have passed one million people.
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“We will discuss detailed plans for assistance with North Korea,” South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol spokesperson Kang In-sun said in a statement, according to Reuters and South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. “President Yoon Suk-yeol plans to provide the North Korean people with COVID-19 vaccines and other medical supplies.”
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The White House on Thursday said it didn’t currently plan to give vaccines to North Korea.
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North Korea and Eritrea, countries that have refused to accept foreign vaccines in the past, are the only two in the world without vaccines, according to the Washington Post. Rumors in both counties, however, claim that the nations’ wealthy elites have been secretly vaccinated.
North Korea has not asked the south for any assistance yet.
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Yoon was inaugurated on Tuesday and campaigned on taking a hard line with the north. However, in his inaugural speech, he promised dialogue between the two countries would remain open, Yonhap reported.