Nearly two and a half years since the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world, North Korea on Thursday reported its first case of the virus.
Calling the situation a "major national emergency,"
the North's state-run news agency KCNA said there was a "hole" in its emergency quarantine procedures, that had kept the regime safe until that point.
It said that the DNA samples collected by authorities from patients with fevers in Pyeongyang were identical to Omicron.
The KCNA said its leader Kim Jong-un chaired a Workers' Party meeting on Thursday to discuss the regime's response to the first outbreak of the virus.
Video footage from the North's state-run Korean Central Television showed Kim walking into the meeting room while wearing a mask for the first time.
Kim ordered all cities to undergo "strict" lockdowns and said emergency reserve medical supplies would be mobilized.
To prevent COVID-19 from entering, North Korea had closed its borders to nearly all trade and visitors for more than two years.
Up until now, the North had never confirmed a single COVID-19 infection,
and had declined offers of shipments of vaccines from the COVAX global COVID-19 vaccine-sharing program.