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N.K. colleges offer online programs amid extended vacation caused by virus fears

North Korea 15:23 March 30, 2020

SEOUL, March 30 (Yonhap) -- Colleges in North Korea are providing online programs for students amid an extended vacation, as the country is making all efforts to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, state media showed Monday.

North Korea has not officially confirmed any coronavirus infections, but it has reportedly extended the winter vacation for all schools as a precaution.

"Classrooms nationwide have been suspended and vacation periods extended as part of efforts to stem the spread of the new coronavirus that has been sweeping around the globe," the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling party, said in an article.

"Colleges across the country are carrying out various tasks without a stop in order to improve the ability of students during the emergency disease control period," the paper added.

The paper noted that Kim Il-sung University, the country's most prestigious school, recently administered tests on its students through a network established at its dormitories. Language education programs were also made available for students staying at home.

The paper also said other schools are providing online lectures and distributing relevant education materials for students.

It, however, did not mention how long colleges would remain on vacation.

Elementary, middle and high schools in North Korea are usually on vacation from January to mid-February, while colleges have a one-month vacation in January.

Despite North Korea's repeated claims that it has no confirmed coronavirus infections, the North has intensified efforts to keep out the virus by shutting down its borders and toughening quarantine criteria on people and goods.

Speculation persists that the reclusive state might be covering up an outbreak and be in dire need of external help in its fight against the highly contagious disease.

This is one of several photos released on March 4, 2020, by the Korean Central News Agency 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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