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Koreas to temporarily shut down liaison office amid new coronavirus fear

All News 11:01 January 30, 2020

SEOUL, Jan. 30 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea on Thursday agreed to temporarily shut down their joint liaison office in the North's border town of Kaesong amid concerns over the spread of the new strain of coronavirus, a unification ministry official said.

They also agreed to establish new telephone and fax lines to continue communications between Seoul and Pyongyang despite the shutdown, the official said, saying the decisions were made after holding a meeting earlier in the day at the office.

A total of 58 South Koreans -- 17 government officials and 41 supporting staff members -- are currently stationed in Kaesong for the office operations. They will be brought back to South Korea as soon as possible, the official said.

South and North Korea have been intensifying quarantine efforts to prevent the spread of the disease, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan amid growing concerns over the global spread of the deadly illness. The virus has killed at least 170 and infected more than 7,700 in China alone.

South Korea has confirmed four cases of the pneumonia-like illness since early last week. North Korea has not yet reported any confirmed infection.

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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