North Korea has lifted a five-day lockdown in Pyongyang to stem the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses, the Russian Embassy in the capital said Monday.
The embassy posted on its Facebook account an image of a notice from the North's Foreign Ministry announcing the end of the lockdown at midnight Sunday.
North Korea had requested diplomats in the capital to refrain from going out since last Wednesday, citing a rising number of seasonal respiratory diseases including influenza. The ministry did not refer to COVID-19.
NK News, a website that provides news and analysis on North Korea, reported Sunday that thousands of civilians in Pyongyang had been engaged in a practice event the previous day for a Feb. 8 military parade, based on its analysis of satellite imagery.
The parade is believed to be intended to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army.
The timing of the lockdown may have had more to do with ensuring the parade's success than addressing a sudden or severe outbreak, NK News said.
In August last year, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared victory in his country's fight against the coronavirus after Pyongyang disclosed its first COVID-19 case in May. The nation had reported about 4.77 million of what it called "fever cases" since late April last year, with 74 patients dying.
North Korea, which is believed to lack sufficient COVID-19 testing capacity, is apparently wary about a fresh outbreak of the virus in the country following an explosion of cases in neighboring China late last year.
Pyongyang shut down its borders in 2020 to prevent the spread of the virus, but land transportation between the North and China, its closest and most influential ally in economic terms, has been resumed.