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N. Korea tightens controls on imported goods over virus concerns

North Korea 11:03 March 12, 2020

SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has tightened guidelines on disinfecting imported goods as part of efforts to prevent the new coronavirus from reaching its soil, the country's main newspaper said Thursday.

The Rodong Sinmun said the country has recently updated its guidelines on quarantine measures and disinfecting imported goods and distributed them to institutions related to health and border controls.

"It is important to place strict controls on imported goods in order to take scientific and preemptive measures," the paper said, adding that an emergency health committee is "closely watching the worsening situation and the intensifying preventive measures around the world."

The guidelines laid out regulations on protective clothing and equipment and detailed procedures on disinfecting the interior and exterior of ships, trains and trucks coming into the country. It added that the vehicles must be left for three hours after the disinfection procedure.

In another article, the paper said the country's ministry of foreign trade is taking disinfection measures three times a day and measuring workers' temperatures twice a day.

North Korea has not reported an outbreak of COVID-19, which emerged in neighboring China in late December, but it has intensified anti-virus efforts by tightening its borders and toughening quarantine criteria and procedures.

In late February, the newspaper carried a report saying North Korea put in place a 10-day quarantine period for all goods arriving at North Korea's ports or passing through border bridges as part of efforts to stop the virus from entering the country.

Despite its repeated claims that it has no infections, speculation persists that the North might be concealing an outbreak.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the COVID-19 virus as a global pandemic, reflecting the rapid spread of the virus across the world.

North Korean quarantine officials disinfect vehicles in northern Jagang Province in this photo captured from the homepage of the Rodong Sinmun on March 8, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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