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(LEAD) N. Korea's paper cautions against misinformation about coronavirus

All News 11:12 March 05, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS Minju Choson's report on coronavirus, more info in last 4 paras, photo)
By Koh Byung-joon

SEOUL, March 5 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official newspaper on Thursday cautioned against misinformation on the new coronavirus, saying that it is important to have scientifically proven knowledge to stem the spread of the contagious disease.

North Korea has not reported any outbreak of COVID-19, a disease caused by the virus, but the country has taken various preventive efforts, including shutting down its border with China where the virus originated and toughening quarantine procedures for foreigners.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling party, ran an article providing clarification on widespread misinformation regarding ways to prevent the outbreak of the flu-like disease.

The paper, in particular, said that wearing an excessively tight mask could cause breathing problems especially for senior people, adding that it is not scientifically proven that high-concentration disinfectants should be sprayed indoors to kill the virus and that anti-viral drugs are effective in preventing coronavirus infection.

"Senior people should refrain from going outside and stay away from large crowds as much as possible. If they have to, they must wear protective equipment not to be exposed to the virus," the paper said.

The report appears aimed at emphasizing the importance of following basic anti-virus guidelines especially for senior people at higher risk of infection as there are still many unknowns with the virus that has been fast spreading to many countries.

Minju Choson, the North's cabinet newspaper, also carried a story providing information on quarantine procedures both for confirmed and suspected cases.

The paper said that any patients confirmed to have contracted the virus should be quarantined within six hours of knowing of the infection. Suspected patients should be isolated within 24 hours of showing symptoms, with the paper saying they could also be sequestered at home.

Despite the North's repeated claims of having no confirmed coronavirus infections, speculation persists that the reclusive country might be concealing an outbreak.

Experts worry that the North is highly vulnerable to the new coronavirus, as it shares a long and porous border with China and lacks key medical supplies and infrastructure to test and treat infected people.

This is one of several photos that the Korean Central News Agency released on March 4, 2020, to show North Korea's ongoing efforts to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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