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(LEAD) N. Korea to examine drinking water sources to ward off coronavirus

All News 10:30 February 06, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS state newspaper's report in paras 6-9)
By Koh Byung-joon

SEOUL, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is preparing to examine drinking water sources, such as rivers and lakes, to make sure that the new coronavirus won't flow into the country, state media reported Thursday.

The move is the latest in a series of measures that the North has taken to fight the fast-spreading virus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

"Detailed work plans are being drawn up to analyze the water quality of rivers, streams and lakes that are being used as sources of drinking water," the North's Korean Central Broadcasting Station reported.

The state radio added that relevant government units are working on measures, including where and how the planned water quality analysis will be conducted.

The move appears aimed at preventing any possibility of the coronavirus spreading into the country through contaminated water from China.

North Korea has not reported any confirmed coronavirus cases, though it has said that there are people quarantined for showing suspected symptoms. It has called for nationwide efforts to protect the country against the deadly virus that causes a pneumonia-like disease.

The North's Cabinet newspaper, Minju Choson, said in an editorial on Thursday that there have been no confirmed infections but warned that "irreversible consequences" could arise if the country lets down its guard against the virus.

The paper also called for "compete" isolation of suspected patients according to guidelines set by the country's emergency disease control center.

Pyongyang has intensified preventive efforts against the new coronavirus. It has tightened its borders with China and increased its quarantines for those coming from the neighboring country.

Last week, North Korea declared the launch of a national emergency system against the new virus, calling such preventive efforts a "political matter" that could determine the fate of the country.

The North is known for having weak medical infrastructure that would be insufficient to fight such an epidemic, which experts say seems to send Pyongyang scrambling to keep the coronavirus at bay for fear that once it enters the country, it could spiral out of control.

This image, captured from North Korea's Korean Central TV on Feb. 2, 2020, shows an official disinfecting a train -- one of numerous disinfections taking place across the country. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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