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(LEAD) N. Korea has no confirmed case of new coronavirus: report

All News 21:51 February 02, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES paras 2-5; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Feb. 2 (Yonhap) -- There is no confirmed case of new coronavirus infection in North Korea, an official there told state media Sunday, in the first instance of the communist country reporting on whether it has been affected by the contagious virus.

In an interview carried by the North's Korean Central TV, a Ministry of Public Health official said while there has been no reported case of the new coronavirus infection, the country should stay vigilant and strive to prevent a possible outbreak.

The official said, however, that "patients with fever or who cough" have been quarantined for treatment, indicating there are people showing possible symptoms of the potentially fatal disease.

This image, captured from the Korean Central TV in North Korea on Feb. 2, 2020, shows a Ministry of Public Health official speaking in an interview on the new coronavirus. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

While North Korea has extensively reported on ongoing efforts to prevent the influx of the new coronavirus into the country, it had not confirmed whether any of its citizens had tested positive.

The communist state has shown extreme vigilance against a possible outbreak, given its proximity to China, where the novel virus first emerged.

This photo, captured from the Korean Central TV in North Korea on Feb. 1, 2020, shows employees in sanitary suits at Pyongyang International Airport checking a thermal scanner, part of an effort to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korea has shut down all its air and railway routes across its borders with China in an apparent effort to prevent the spread of the new strain of coronavirus into the country, according to the British government.

Pyongyang has announced that "all air and train routes between North Korea and China are temporarily suspended as of 31 January 2020" in response to the outbreak of the new virus across the globe, the British foreign ministry said earlier on its website.

North Korea has also decided to keep all foreigners arriving in the country via China isolated for up to one month to prevent the pneumonia-like illness from spreading onto its soil, according to the Russian Embassy.

The Rodong Sinmun carried multiple articles detailing preventive work being done in Pyongyang and other cities against the coronavirus, which was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December. It has since claimed over 300 lives in China and infected many others in the country and around the world.

One Rodong article stated that North Korea's state disease control center and its national quality management body have conducted checks on North Korean residents returning from overseas trips, with particular attention being paid to areas bordering China.

A separate feature showed preventive measures being taken at Pyongyang International Airport, the only international airport in the North Korean capital.

"In order to completely keep the new cornonavirus from spreading, (airport authorities) have taken an aggressive stance and have been undertaking checkups and quarantine efforts inside airplanes," the report stated.

This photo, captured from the Korean Central TV in North Korea on Feb. 1, 2020, shows a security guard at Pyongyang International Airport wearing a mask as a measure against the new coronavirus. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)



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