COVID-19: 2,280 North Koreans and two foreigners held in isolation

For the first time, state media published pandemic figures. Measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country will continue for a “long time." So far, North Korea has not reported any case of coronavirus infection.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – North Korean health authorities this morning lifted quarantine on people who showed no coronavirus symptoms, but around 2,280 North Koreans and two foreigners remain confined, state media reported. This is the first time North Korea provides data about the pandemic.

"One additional foreigner was released from quarantine, leaving two foreigners quarantined as of now," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the country’s official news agency, announced.

Earlier state media had reported that all but three foreigners had been released out of the reported 380 foreigners under quarantine; they are now back to their normal activities.

Previously, KCNA had disclosed figures only by region, but had not mentioned the total accumulated number of people quarantined due to the coronavirus and later released.

According to the agency, the measures taken by the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country will continue for the “long term". For this reason, state or regional epidemic prevention facilities must remain alert.

"The national anti-virus emergency system in our country is being strengthened even further as the COVID-19 virus is spreading rapidly to nearly all countries and regions in the world," the KCNA noted.

North Korea has not yet reported any case of COVID-19 virus infection, but has called for nationwide efforts to prevent the virus from breaking out on its territory. To this end, the authorities have intensified border controls and tightened the quarantine process.

Still, concerns persist that North Korea may be vulnerable as it shares a long and porous border with China. Experts point out that the country lacks the medical equipment and diagnostic tools needed to deal with infected patients.

Recently, South Korean media reported that the virus has already killed nearly 200 soldiers in the North.