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Thursday, 2 April 2020

North Korea insists it is free of coronavirus

(By AFP/The Forefront) -North Korea remains totally free of the coronavirus, a senior health official in Pyongyang has insisted, despite mounting scepticism overseas as confirmed global infections near one million.



The already isolated, nuclear-armed North quickly shut down its borders after the virus was first detected in neighbouring China in January, and imposed strict containment measures.

Pak Myong Su, director of the anti-epidemic department of the North’s Central Emergency Anti-epidemic Headquarters, insisted that the efforts had been completely successful.
“Not one single person has been infected with the novel coronavirus in our country so far,” Pak told AFP.
“We have carried out preemptive and scientific measures such as inspections and quarantine for all personnel entering our country and thoroughly disinfecting all goods, as well as closing borders and blocking sea and air lanes.”
Nearly every other country has reported coronavirus cases, with the World Health Organization saying on Wednesday that there were nearly one million confirmed infections globally.
Aside from China, South Korea endured one of the worst early outbreaks of the virus, which has claimed more than 45,000 lives around the world.
Experts have said the North is particularly vulnerable to the virus because of its weak medical system, and defectors have accused Pyongyang of covering up an outbreak.
The top US military commander in South Korea, General Robert Abrams, said last month he was “fairly certain” the North had confirmed cases of the virus.
US President Donald Trump also said North Korea “is going through something” and offered “cooperation in the anti-epidemic work”, in a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
And Choi Jung-hun, a former North Korean doctor who fled to the South in 2012, told AFP: “I heard there are many deaths in North Korea but the authorities are not saying that it’s caused by the coronavirus.”


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