SEOUL, Dec. 19 (Yonhap) -- The United Nations Command (UNC) confirmed Saturday that tours to the truce village of Panmunjom have been suspended due to novel coronavirus concerns in South Korea.
"Unfortunately, based on continuing high numbers of COVID cases in the country, UNC has suspended all non-essential activities in the JSA, including tours," UNC wrote on Twitter. "This is needed to protect the ROK public & our DMZ personnel. We look forward to resuming tours once COVID cases subside."
The UNC controls access to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), including Panmunjom.
Seoul's unification ministry already announced Sunday that the Panmunjom tours will be suspended following consultation with the UNC.
The Panmunjom tours had resumed on Nov. 4 after more than a year of suspension due to the outbreak of African swine fever. The tours take visitors to the Joint Security Area (JSA) and other sites inside the DMZ separating the two Koreas.
However, the resurgence of COVID-19 in the country has forced the authorities to halt the tour program.
South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases topped the 1,000 mark for the fourth consecutive day Saturday due to cluster infections nationwide. The country reported 1,053 COVID-19 cases, raising the total caseload to 48,570.
N. Korean leader Kim ramps up nuclear threat, alludes to more aggressive doctrine
ICBM launch puts Yoon's N. Korea policy to test
Concerns grow over possible North Korean nuke test
N. Korea fiddling with ICBM card to pressure U.S. to ease sanctions: experts
Yoon heralds tough stance on N. Korea as Pyongyang threatens to cross 'red line'