North Korean authorities urged its citizens to stay indoors and avoid the yellow dust blowing in from China.
North Korea claims it has “zero cases of Covid-19" and to maintain that record, it has urged people to stay indoors because "yellow dust" coming from China could potentially "carry the novel coronavirus into the country."
As the North Korean state media made that claim during a weather program, which included the details of the Chinese yellow dust containing 'coronavirus, pathogenic microorganisms and toxic materials', the streets of its capital city Pyongyang were reportedly empty following the warning.
A handful of people were seen outside wearing raincoats in the absence of any rainfall, the sources told NK News.
The socialist state is said to have maximised coronavirus measures since January. It imposed strict border closures and restriction of movement within the country.
On Thursday, the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang posted a statement from its Facebook account, saying it “highly recommends” people to stay inside.
“As we were told, these measures are due to the fact that COVID-19 can be introduced to the territory of the DPRK along with the ‘yellow dust’ particles,” the embassy continued.
Furthermore, the embassy also said such a warning has been delivered to Russia’s consulate in Chongjin and workers at RasonConTrans, a joint venture by two countries.
According to Korean Central News Television(KCTV), construction workers were banned from labouring outdoors yesterday. The ban also affects urgent construction projects, including the sites razed by typhoons and floods in some parts of the country.
Will Covid-19 be transferred by dust clouds?
North Korean officials believe the coronavirus can be transmitted by dust.
An article published in the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper said that “ the data that malignant viruses can be transferred by air, etc., the necessity to deal with the yellow dust phenomenon consciously and to take thorough measures is becoming more prominent.”
It also said: “all workers… must clearly recognise the danger of invading malicious viruses.”
The US Centre for Disease Control(CDC) also said the virus can travel in the air for hours. However, being infected by the virus in this way is extremely rare, the CDC says.
The main ways that the virus spreads are through coughs, sneezes or talking to and therefore being in the close vicinity of an infected person.
On the other hand, the BBC says that officials in Turkmenistan has told its citizens to wear face masks to avoid virus-laden dust.
Despite claiming there are no cases, analysts believe that it is highly unlikely that North Korea is actually in this position.