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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea is quarantining thousands of people and shipping food and other aid to a southern city locked down over coronavirus worries, officials said, as the country’s response to a suspected case reinforces doubt about its longstanding claim to be virus-free.

But amid the outside skepticism and a stream of North Korean propaganda glorifying its virus efforts, an exchange between the country and the United Nations is providing new clarity — and actual numbers — about what might be happening in North Korea, which has closed its borders and cut travel — never a free-flowing stream — by outsider monitors and journalists.

In late July, North Korea said it had imposed its “maximum emergency system” to guard against the virus spreading after finding a person with COVID-19 symptoms in Kaesong city, near the border with rival South Korea.

State media reported that leader Kim Jong Un then ordered a total lockdown of Kaesong, and said the suspected case was a North Korean who had earlier fled to South Korea before slipping back into Kaesong last month.

North Korea’s public admission of its first potential case and the emergency steps it took prompted immediate outside speculation that it may be worried about a big outbreak after months of steadfastly claiming it had no cases. Foreign experts are highly skeptical of North Korea’s assertion of no cases, in large part because of its long, porous border with China, where the virus emerged, and its history of hiding past disease outbreaks.

In a report to the World Health Organization, North Korea said it has quarantined 64 first contacts of the suspected Keasong case and 3,571 secondary contacts in state-run facilities for a period of 40 days, according to Dr. Edwin Salvador, WHO representative to North Korea.

Salvador said in an email to The Associated Press that North Korea also informed WHO of the suspected first case, saying the person was tested for COVID-19 but the results were inconclusive. Salvador said WHO has requested that North Korea share more information about the person.

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Salvador said all of North Korea’s borders remain closed, group gatherings are banned, masks are required in public, and all educational institutions, including preschools, are on an extended summer break. Since the end of December, North Korea has quarantined and released 25,905 people, 382 of them foreigners, Salvador said.

Many outside observers are all but certain the virus has already entered North Korea because it closed its border with China, its biggest trading partner, weeks after the world’s first known virus cases were recorded in China in December. Monitoring groups in Seoul have steadfastly reported about North Korean virus cases and deaths.

A major coronavirus outbreak may cause a humanitarian disaster because of North Korea’s broken public health care system and lack of medical supplies.

But it’s unclear how serious North Korea’s current situation is.

“Though a really extensive local outbreak might not have occurred yet, it’s likely that a considerable number of people has been infected,” said analyst Hong Min at Seoul’s Korea Institute for National Unification. “Even though North Korea locks itself down, there should be suspected cases there and authorities must aggressively diagnose them. But North Korea has never been transparent about whether it has such a capacity and the will to do so.”

North Korea’s state media have recently churned out articles thick with rallying propaganda that describe the latest anti-virus work as “an all-people’s campaign” that demonstrates the Kim government’s resolve to protect public safety “at any cost.” The articles also say that any individual carelessness or breach of anti-virus guidelines may lead to “critical consequences.”

State media said North Korea has deployed more health workers, sanitized personnel and goods, and used loudspeakers to raise public awareness of the virus. The Korean Central News Agency said Thursday that 550,000 aid items have been sent to Kaesong.

North Korea’s claimed emergency steps suggest that an outbreak there may have worsened, said Kim Sin-gon, a professor at Korea University College of Medicine in Seoul. North Korea may also aim to win aid from South Korea or others, but wants to save face by saying its suspected Kaesong case is someone who had been in South Korea, he said.

Before returning to North Korea, the suspected first case, identified in South Korea as a 24-year-old man surnamed Kim, hadn’t tested positive in South Korea and never had contact with any patient, South Korean health official Yoon Taeho said.

The motive for his return to North Korea isn’t known. More than 33,000 North Koreans have escaped to South Korea over the past 22 years for political and economic reasons, but only a handful have returned to North Korea.

Police said the man was questioned in June on an allegation that he had sexually assaulted a female North Korean refugee. The man denied the accusation. Last month, the national forensic service told police it found DNA evidence of the assault, and police were continuing to investigate, according to the Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency.

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How Many Attended Trump’s Fayetteville, North Carolina, Rally? See Crowd Photos

Getty Trump Fayetteville Rally

President Donald Trump hosted an event in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on Saturday, September 19. The day before, he hosted a rally in Minnesota. This was his first rally since Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. Here’s a look at Trump’s Fayetteville, North Carolina, rally crowd photos and more details about how many people attended the event.

Trump’s last rally in North Carolina was on September 8, when he hosted a rally in Winston Salem. You can see photos of that rally here.

Thousands Attended the Fayetteville Rally

GettyPresident Donald Trump speaks at a “Great American Comeback” rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

The September 19 rally was hosted at the Fayetteville Regional Airport and, technically, was called a “Great American Comeback” event, not a rally. Many of his supporters hold “peaceful protest” signs, which Trump often jokes about during his speeches. During his speech on Saturday, Trump said it was going to be called “a protest against stupidity.”

The Fayetteville Observer described the crowd as numbering in the thousands. The publication noted that about half in line wore masks and half didn’t.

GettyPresident Donald Trump speaks at a “Great American Comeback” rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Here’s a look at the crowd when Air Force One landed.

President Trump takes the stage. #TrumpRally

— Kara Evenson (@karaevenson) September 19, 2020

Ryan Nobles of CNN reported that it was a large crowd, but a bit smaller than some of Trump’s other recent rallies.

Good Saturday Evening from Fayetteville, NC where President Trump is set to speak.
Another big crowd, although a bit smaller than some of the ones we’ve seen recently.
This will be Trump’s first chance to tell his supporters directly about his plans to fill the open SCOTUS seat.

— Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) September 19, 2020

Here’s another crowd photo:

And now they’re blasting “Macho Macho Man” by the Village People.

— DJ Judd (@DJJudd) September 19, 2020

Kara Evenson of the Fayetteville Observer reported that the chairs were placed very close together, making social distancing difficult.

Pretty hard for people to social distance within the seating area of the #trumprally. Folding chairs are placed pretty close together and bleachers.

— Kara Evenson (@karaevenson) September 19, 2020

Lucille Sherman of the local News & Observer reported that everyone was close together and many didn’t have on masks, making it seem like there wasn’t a pandemic.

You wouldn’t know from looking at this crowd but there’s a global pandemic #ncpol #ncvotes

— Lucille Sherman (@_lucysherman) September 19, 2020

Earlier in the day, Mayor Mitch Colvin said that he understood the need for the rally since they’re a swing state, but encouraged people attending to wear masks and social distance, ABC 11 reported. The NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said that while there are restrictions on how many people can gather in large events in North Carolina, those don’t apply to First Amendment events like protests or political rallies, ABC 11 reported.

GettyTrump speaks in North Carolina.

Evenson shared on Twitter that people attending the rally were told to chant “Trump, Trump, Trump” if they saw protesters. This photo shows people waiting in line before the event began.

— Kara Evenson (@karaevenson) September 19, 2020

At the beginning of his speech, Trump looked at the press and told the crowd: “That’s a lot of press. That’s a lot of fake news.”

During his speech, Trump announced that he would put forth a nominee in the next week and the nominee would be a woman.

"I will be putting forth a nominee next week. It will be a woman." #SupremeCourtJustice #TrumpRally

— FayettevilleObserver (@fayobserver) September 19, 2020

Then he made a statement about taking a poll and let his voice trail off. He also talked about turning the phrase “fill that seat” into merchandise.

NEWS: President Trump announces the Supreme Court nominee he puts forward this week will indeed be a woman.

"It will be a woman. It will be a woman. Unless, ok, let’s do a poll…" he says to the NC rally crowd, before trailing off.

— Monica Alba (@albamonica) September 19, 2020

However, he also took time to pay homage to Ginsburg. He said that she was an inspiration to all Americans.

Pres uses opening remarks at campaign rally to pay homage to the late Justice Ginsburg. Says agree or disagree with her opinions, she was an inspiration “to all Americans.” Then quickly pivots to replacing her on the court: “we’re going to fill the seat,” he said.

— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) September 19, 2020

DJ Judd of CNN shared this next photo from the risers:

The view from the riser.

— DJ Judd (@DJJudd) September 20, 2020

Trump Has a Number of New Rallies Scheduled

GettyPresident Donald Trump speaks to a crowd during a Make America Great Again campaign rally on September 19, 2020 in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Trump has a number of future events scheduled. On Monday, September 21, he’s hosting a rally in Swanton, Ohio, at Grande Air starting at 7 p.m. Eastern time.

On Tuesday, September 22, he’s hosting a rally in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, at 7 p.m. Eastern time at the Pittsburgh International Airport.

Here are more photos from the Fayetteville rally.

GettyPresident Donald Trump speaks at a “Great American Comeback” rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

GettyPresident Donald Trump speaks at a “Great American Comeback” rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

GettyPresident Donald Trump speaks at a “Great American Comeback” rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

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