Meant to be a triumphant celebration of North Korea’s martial prowess, a giant military parade to celebrate the founding of the military may have unwittingly spread Covid-19 across the country, experts say.

First case in the country

North Korea announced its first death from Covid-19 on Friday, saying the virus has already spread across the country, with a “fever” having “spread explosively throughout the country from the end of April,” according to the official KCNA news agency.

For Hong Min, a researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, based in Seoul, the current Covid-19 epidemic is “closely linked to the April 25 parade”, a gigantic military parade on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army.

Thousands of unmasked people

Footage of the event broadcast by state television shows thousands of people – unmasked and without social distancing – crowded into Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang to watch the parade of soldiers and applaud the passing of tanks, launchers rockets and large intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

“More than 20,000 people prepared for the parade two months before the event and stayed in the capital for photo ops with Kim Jong Un,” Hong Min added.

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