SEOUL: The us expressed deep concern about North Korea's vulnerability to the outbreak of a replacement virus and said it had been able to support efforts by aid organizations to contain the spread of the illness within the impoverished nation.
North Korea has moved to strengthen quarantines and other preventive measures to guard itself from the COVID-19 illness that has killed hundreds and sickened tens of thousands in China, North Korea's neighbour and closest ally.
North Korea has yet to report a case of the new virus, but state media have hinted that an uncertain number of individuals are quarantined after showing symptoms. Experts say a plague in North Korea might be dire due to its chronic lack of medical supplies and poor health care infrastructure.
“We strongly support and encourage the work of U.S. and international aid and health organizations to counter and contain the spread of coronavirus within the DPRK,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said during a statement, pertaining to North Korea by its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“The us is prepared and ready to expeditiously facilitate the approval of assistance from these organizations.”
North Korea's media have described the fight against the illness as a matter of “national existence.” it's pack up nearly all cross-border traffic, banned foreign tourists, intensified screening at airports, harbors and other land entry points, and mobilized some 30,000 doctors to watch residents and isolate those with symptoms.
South Korea withdrew dozens of officials from an inter-Korean liaison office during a North Korean border town after the North insisted on closing it until the epidemic is controlled.
The North in the week also announced it'll impose a monthlong quarantine for all foreign visitors et al. suspected to possess the virus. The Russian Embassy in Pyongyang previously had said North Korea had imposed a 15-day quarantine on foreign visitors.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has said its branch in North Korea has mobilized 500 volunteers in areas on the brink of the Chinese border to help doctors in house-to-house screening and promoting personal hygiene. Volunteers also are using many bicycles to succeed in North Korean households in remote areas and lift awareness of the virus, the IFRC said.
“All the institutions and fields of the state and foreigners staying within the DPRK should obey it unconditionally,” the Korean Central press agency said Wednesday about the North's quarantine. “The spread of the epidemic involves be a significant problem with the likelihood of international disaster.”
South Korea, which has reported 28 cases of the virus, said there’s a requirement for inter-Korean cooperation to contain the spread of the disease. Cho Hey-sil, a spokeswoman of Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which deals with inter-Korean affairs, said Friday her government will consider popular opinion before deciding whether to formally propose joint quarantine efforts with the North.
North Korea has virtually suspended all cooperation and diplomatic activities with the South in past months amid a standstill in large nuclear negotiations with the us , which have faltered over disagreements in easing U.S.-led sanctions against the North in exchange for the North’s disarmament steps.