This file photo taken on December 30, 2019, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
North Korea has reportedly declared a state of emergency after a person suspected of having COVID-19 returned from South Korea by illegally crossing the border this month, state media said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convened an emergency politburo meeting after the person returned with symptoms of coronavirus infection, KCNA reported on Sunday.
The state news agency did not specifically mention whether the individual had been tested, but said an "uncertain result was made from several medical check-ups of the secretion of that personís upper respiratory organ and blood," prompting officials to quarantine the person and investigate anyone he may have been in contact with.
The person had defected to South Korea three years ago, and returned across the fortified border that divides the two Koreas with symptoms that suggested COVID-19.
Kim declared a state of emergency and imposed a lockdown on the border city of Kaesong, calling it a "critical situation in which the vicious virus could be said to have entered the country," KCNA reported.
If confirmed, it would be the first case officially acknowledged by North Korean authorities, who have so far said the country has no confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.
North Korea has received thousands of coronavirus testing kits from Russia and other countries, and imposed strict border closures.
In recent weeks, North Korea has also stepped up a campaign criticizing defectors to South Korea as "human scum" and calling for South Korea to crack down on groups that send propaganda messages and food aid into the North.
Kim ordered an investigation into the military units along the border where the person was suspected of crossing to "administer a severe punishment and take necessary measures."
Since the onset of the outbreak, North Korea introduced intense measures against COVID-19 even though it had reported no cases. The country banned almost all cross-border travel and put foreigners in quarantine as a precautionary measure, but restrictions had recently eased.
SOURCE: PRESS TV