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N. Korean media reports on preventive efforts against coronavirus for college students

All News 11:45 February 17, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 17 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean propaganda outlet on Monday reported about efforts to prevent the outbreak of the new coronavirus among college students set to return to school after winter vacation.

North Korea has not confirmed any infection cases of the COVID-19 virus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, but it has beefed up preventive and quarantine efforts against the highly contagious virus that has been spreading to many other countries.

"Hospital workers in close cooperation with college administrative officials and youth league people are making preemptive efforts to completely brace for any students showing abnormal symptoms in tests after returning from their vacation," Tongil Voice, a North Korean propaganda radio broadcast, said, referring to efforts under way at a hospital affiliated with Kim Chaek University of Technology.

The radio broadcast noted that medical workers are drawing up measures to swiftly find, quarantine and treat those showing any suspected symptoms of the coronavirus, adding that they are also striving to secure necessary medical supplies such as antiviral drugs not just to treat patients but also to prevent an outbreak within hospitals.

North Korean media outlets have almost daily carried reports on Pyongyang's efforts to block the spread of the virus on its soil such as tightening its border with China and doubling the quarantine period for high-risk people to 30 days.

The North also earlier asked South Korea to vacate a joint liaison office in the North's border town of Kaesong in a precautionary move at a time when Seoul has so far reported 30 cases of infection.

Experts worry that the North appears very vulnerable to such viruses as it lacks medical supplies and the infrastructure necessary to diagnose and treat people, with some raising speculation that Pyongyang might be concealing an outbreak.

South Korea has pushed to cooperate with the North in fighting such an infectious disease. The North has stayed mum on almost all cross-border projects.

Seoul's unification ministry handling inter-Korean affairs said that it depends on the North's official reports on the coronavirus to figure out actual situations there but noted that it will make efforts to learn of any new developments through the World Health Organization, which the North is supposed to inform if an outbreak arises.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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