Authorities reveal defector to N. Korea did not have COVID-19
Updated: 2020-07-28 05:56:24 KST
South Korean health authorities have refuted North Korea's claim that a man presumed to have defected back to the North was COVID-19-positive.
"Up until now, the defector has not been identified as a confirmed or symptomatic patient according to our electronic system. We've carried out tests on two people who have been in frequent contact with the defector but both tested NEGATIVE for the virus."
The Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency said in a briefing held Monday that the 24-year-old man in question was last spotted on July 18th on South Korea's northwestern region of Ganghwa-do Island in Incheon where his bag of personal items were collected.
The defector is believed to have swam under South Korean military's barbed-wire fence installed above a waterway to get across the inter-Korean border.
In response, North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim Jong-un convened an emergency politburo meeting of the Workers' Party on Sunday to adopt a "maximum emergency system" against the coronavirus and vowed to hold those responsible for the damage caused by the incident.
North Korea had up until now claimed that there were no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the country.
Pundits say the North could be using this incident as a way to blame South Korea for a surge in coronavirus cases in the reclusive state or to justify getting medical or humanitarian support from the South.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.