Seoul, South Korea:
The North Korean authorities have blocked the border town of Kaesong after finding out what they consider to be the country's first suspected case of the novel coronavirus, state media reported on Sunday.
Leader Kim Jong Un convened an emergency political bureau meeting on Saturday to implement a "maximum emergency system and a top-notch warning" to contain the virus, the official news agency KCNA said.
If confirmed, this will be the first officially recognized COVID-19 case in the north where the medical infrastructure is considered to be absolutely inadequate to deal with an epidemic.
KCNA said a defector who traveled south three years ago returned on July 19 after "illegally crossing" the heavily fortified border that divides the countries.
In the south, however, there were no reports that someone passed one of the safest borders in the world with minefields and guards.
Pyongyang has previously insisted that no case of coronavirus has occurred in the north, despite the fact that the disease has spread to the globe and the country's borders are still closed.
The patient was found in the southern city of Kaesong and "strictly quarantined," like anyone who had come into close contact, the state media said.
It was a "dangerous situation … that can lead to a fatal and destructive disaster," added the media broadcaster.
Kim was quoted as saying "the malicious virus may have entered the country," and officials took "preventive measures to block Kaesong City completely" on Friday.
The north, armed with nuclear weapons, closed its borders at the end of January when the virus spread to neighboring China and imposed severe restrictions that isolated thousands of its population. However, analysts say the north has probably not avoided the contagion.
South Korea currently registers around 40 to 60 cases a day.
Earlier this month, Kim warned of a "hasty" easing of anti-coronavirus measures, suggesting the country will keep its borders closed for the foreseeable future.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)