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S. Korea denies report it rejected N. Korea's request for masks

All News 11:29 March 09, 2020

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has denied a news report that it rejected North Korea's request for masks to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, a major Japanese daily, reported earlier that Seoul proposed sending medicine and diagnostic reagent to the North to help check COVID-19 virus infections after President Moon Jae-in expressed his support for such cooperation in his March 1 Independence Movement Day address.

In response, the North requested mask assistance, but the South rejected it, citing mask shortages, the report said, citing a South Korean government official.

On Monday, the unification ministry flatly dismissed the report as groundless.

"That is groundless. That is completely untrue," Yoh Sang-key, the ministry's spokesperson, said in a regular press briefing when asked whether the recent media report is true.

Last week, the unification ministry also dismissed speculation that the government has provided masks to the North after a local TV station aired video footage of a North Korean medical worker wearing a dental mask with the logo of a South Korean brand.

North Korea has not reported any outbreaks of COVID-19, 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.

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)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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