Kim Jong Un
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un waves before departing Pyongyang to Singapore on June 10, 2018. KCNA via REUTERS

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep the world, affecting close to a million people worldwide, North Korea remains firm in its claim “not one single person has been infected” by the coronavirus.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea insists it is free from SARS-CoV-2, or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The self-isolated country has imposed tighter restrictions early in January after news broke out that neighboring China was badly hit by the virus.

Despite the novel coronavirus spreading across 180 countries and regions, a senior health official insists the nation of 25 million is COVID-19-free.

"Not one single person has been infected with the novel coronavirus in our country so far," said Pak Myong Su, director of North Korea's Central Emergency Anti-epidemic Headquarters, Al Jazeera reported.

"We have carried out pre-emptive and scientific measures such as inspections and quarantine for all personnel entering our country and thoroughly disinfecting all goods, as well as closing borders and blocking sea and air lanes.”

North Korea’s bordering countries China and South Korea are some of the hardest hit by COVID-19. As of April 2, 8:21 pm Sydney time, China remains the fourth most infected with 82,394 confirmed cases and 3,295 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. South Korea has 9,976 cases.

The government’s claims have been faced with skepticism and criticism, with many claiming the North Korea is hiding the truth from the world. The United Nations confirms the country is plagued by malnutrition, with more than 10 million North Koreans suffering from “severe food shortages. This makes it more valnurable to the pandemic.

Despite its claims, North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un has ordered the construction of a new hospital in the capital Pyongyang.

“When the general hospital is built, we will get another valuable asset with which to better protect the precious health and safety of our people,” Kim said.