North Korea says it has identified the source of its COVID-19 outbreak – citizens touching “extraterrestrial things” near the border with South Korea.
State media KCNA reported: “An 18-year-old soldier surnamed Kim and a five-year-old child surnamed Wi were known to have come into contact with extraterrestrial objects in a hillside around the barracks and residential areas of Ipho. -ri at the beginning of April.”
The pair had shown symptoms and later tested positive for coronavirus.
Ipho-ri is on the east coast near the border with South Korea.
“The survey results showed that several people coming from the Ipho-ri area in Kumgang County of Kangwon Province to the capital in mid-April had a fever, and a sharp increase in cases fever was observed among their contacts,” KCNA added. .
The North Koreans were warned to “deal vigilantly with extraterrestrials from wind and other weather phenomena and balloons in areas along the demarcation line and borders.”
North Korean defectors and South Korean activists used to fly balloons across the heavily guarded border carrying leaflets and humanitarian aid.
But that was stopped by the South Korean government in 2020, citing security concerns, although critics said the move was aimed at improving relations with North Korean authorities.
Meanwhile, North Korea claims its COVID outbreak is waning, but it’s hard to gauge that claim.
A reported shortage of COVID tests means North Korean health authorities are only reporting the number of people with fever symptoms, rather than confirming they have COVID.
On Friday, the country said there were 4,570 more people with fever, with 4.74 million fever patients registered since the end of April.
The country first confirmed its outbreak in May, sparking international concern over the vulnerability of an unvaccinated population grappling with massive food shortages.
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A number of countries have offered aid, including vaccines and medical supplies, but an offer from the United States sparked an angry response from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday.
The ministry said the United States was offering aid only to silence critics of its hostile policy toward North Korea.
According to North Korea, this hostility translates into military exercises and longstanding sanctions aimed at forcing Kim Jong-Un to cut its nuclear program.
North Korea’s foreign ministry said the United States had failed to manage its own COVID-19 crisis and should drop its “senseless” offer of aid and focus on its own issues.