SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Yonhap) -- North Korea will keep its borders closed until effective diagnosis and treatment measures against the new coronavirus are available, a vice minister of the country's health ministry said Thursday.
North Korea has imposed restrictions on cross-border travel since late last month as part of stepped-up preventive efforts against COVID-19 that originated in neighboring China and has been spreading to many countries, including South Korea.
"No foreigners have been allowed to enter (the country) through entry points at the border, along with sea ports and airports," North Korean Vice Health Minister Kim Hyong-hun said in an interview with the Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korea newspaper in Japan.
"The measure will be in place until diagnosis and treatment are completely developed," he added.
It is the first time that a North Korean official has mentioned until when the country will seal off its border.
Kim reaffirmed Pyongyang's claims that there has been no confirmed case of coronavirus infection, saying the country is making all-out anti-virus efforts.
North Korea's media has almost daily reported on measures that the country is taking to prevent the spread of the virus into the country. Earlier in the day, the North's state radio said that Pyongyang has postponed the opening of schools across the country amid coronavirus fears.
The North has claimed there are no coronavirus infections in the country, but speculation persists that there must have been an outbreak in the reclusive state given its long and porous border with China, the country hit worst by the virus.
Five years after its full nuke armament claim, N. Korea's threat becomes real, further complicated
(News Focus) S. Korea grapples with calls for nuclear armament
Talk of 'normalizing' GSOMIA raises hope, skepticism around Seoul-Tokyo ties
S. Korea, U.S., Japan close ranks amid growing N.K. threats
N. Korea says month-old virus crisis under control, but skepticism lingers