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North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2019. Photo: Manan Vatsayana/AFP via Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered Kaesong City, near the border with South Korea, to be placed on lockdown and declared a "maximum emergency" because of a suspected coronavirus case, state media reported on Sunday.

Why it matters: If the person is found to have COVID-19, it would mark the first time Pyongyang has publicly confirmed having a case in the country. The isolated state has previously insisted it's free of the pandemic, although experts have cast doubt on the claim.

  • There's concern that an outbreak in North Korea would devastate the country's poor medical infrastructure and trigger a humanitarian disaster.

What's happening: The official Korean Central News Agency reported the suspected case involved a person who returned to North Korea by crossing the Military Demarcation Line last Sunday after defecting to South Korea three years ago.

  • The person's coronavirus result test result was "uncertain," but they were "put under strict quarantine as a primary step and all the persons in Kaesong City who contacted that person and those who have been to the city in the last five days are being thoroughly investigated, given medical examination and put under quarantine," KCNA said.
  • Kim has also declared a state of emergency in Kaesong City and said he "took the preemptive measure of totally blocking Kaesong City and isolating each district and region from the other within July 24 afternoon just after receiving the report on it."

Of note: North Korea began to take precautions against COVID-19 in January, closing its borders, pausing business with China and quarantining all of its diplomats for a month in Pyongyang, per the New York Times.

Go deeper

Oct 28, 2020 - Sports

Boston Marathon delayed as COVID-19 surges

Photo: Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

The Boston Marathon, which is typically held in April, "will be postponed until at least the fall of 2021," because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Boston Athletic Association announced Wednesday.

The state of play: The BAA said it delayed the 125th annual event, which was scheduled for April 19, 2021, because road races are banned until Boston hits Phase 4 of its reopening plan. The city is currently in Phase 3 of 4.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Oct 29, 2020 - Health

Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Many of the states where coronavirus cases have recently skyrocketed are also seeing the highest death rates in the nation, a painful reminder that wherever the virus goes, death eventually follows.

Between the lines: Deaths usually lag behind cases by a few weeks. Given America's record-high case counts, it's reasonable to expect that death rates across the country will continue to rise in tandem.

Oct 29, 2020 - World

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing" and the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus for the achievement, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China