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Current Affairs

Yellow dust

Date: 25 October 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

North Korean authorities have urged citizens to remain indoors to avoid contact with a mysterious cloud of ‘yellow dust’ blowing in from China, which they have warned could bring Covid-19 with it.

 

Background
North Korea claims it has had no cases of the novel coronavirus, but imposed strict border closures and restrictions on movement of people as early as January.

 

Details

  • During a weather segment, the state-controlled Korean Central Television (KCTV) warned that a cloud of yellow dust would blow in from China and descend on the country the following day.

  • A nationwide ban on outdoor construction work was announced, and all citizens were ordered to remain indoors with their windows tightly closed.

  • An article in the newspaper argued that since research from around the world has shown Covid-19 can be “transmitted through air”, the yellow dust cloud must be taken seriously.

  • Yellow dust is actually sand from deserts in China and Mongolia that high speed surface winds carry into both North and South Korea during specific periods every year.

  • The sand particles tend to mix with other toxic substances such as industrial pollutants, as a result of which the ‘yellow dust’ is known to cause a number of respiratory ailments.

  • Usually, when the dust reaches unhealthy levels in the atmosphere, authorities urge people to remain indoors and limit physical activity, particularly heavy exercise and sport.

  • Sometimes, when the concentration of yellow dust in the atmosphere crosses around 800 micrograms/cubic meter, schools are shut and outdoor events cancelled in the affected areas.

  • While researchers say the virus can remain airborne for hours, it has also maintained that it is highly unlikely for the Covid-19 infection to spread in this way, particularly outdoors.

  • People are most likely to contract the disease by standing in close proximity to an infected person who coughs, sneezes or talks, thus spreading the virus through droplets.