North Korea claims Asian dust may bring coronavirus
North Korea has warned its citizens to stay indoors over fears that “yellow dust” which blows in from China could bring coronavirus with it.
Korean Central Television (KCTV) told its viewers that the dust, which experts say is a seasonal phenomenon, “could carry Covid-19 virus with it since it is an airborne disease”, even though there is no known link between the seasonal dust clouds and Covid-19.
The WHO says coronavirus can be transmitted between people through contact routes and respiratory droplets.
Meanwhile, the US Centres for Disease Control has said coronavirus can remain suspended in the air “for hours”. However, it also says it is extremely rare for someone to be infected this way – especially outdoors.
Yellow dust refers to sand from Mongolian and Chinese deserts that blow into North and South Korea at certain times of the year. It is intermingled with toxic dust that for years has raised health concerns in both countries.
The streets of the capital Pyongyang were reported to be virtually empty on Thursday following the warning.
Foreign missions also reported being told to keep their staff indoors and not open any windows, with the Russian embassy in Pyongyang writing on Facebook that it was taking measures due to “the expected dust storm”.
North Korea still hasn’t officially reported a single case of Covid-19, with Mr. Kim continuing high-level meetings and appearances, although some pictures have shown other state officials wearing masks around him.