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N. Korea seen to lift Ebola travel ban in Q1 of next year

North Korea is expected to lift an Ebola-related entry ban on foreign tourists sometime during the first quarter of 2015, according to a Beijing-based tour agency Thursday. 

North Korea began barring foreign tourists from entering the country in late October and has required all foreigners visiting the North to be put under quarantine for 21 days as a precaution against the spread of Ebola. 

"The latest information we currently have from our contacts is that the temporary suspension of tours to North Korea -- enacted by the DPRK (North Korea) government on 25 October 2014 in response to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa -- will be lifted at some point during Q1 of 2015," the British-run Koryo Tours said in an announcement on its website. 

 "While the exact date is yet to be confirmed at this stage we are confident that tours will resume during this period and will be sure to post more detailed news here as soon as we have further updates," said the agency specializing in travels to North Korea. 

Koryo Tours also said it has been told by a North Korean sports official that the country will invite foreign tourists to an annual marathon to celebrate its founder's birthday, the 2015 Pyongyang Marathon set for April 12. 

"A North Korean official at the DPRK's Ministry of Sport has since confirmed with us that the Pyongyang Marathon on 12 April 2015 will be open to international tourists," it said. 

North Korea closed its borders for several months in 2003 because of the spread of the SARS virus.

Since the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa this year, nearly 6,400 people have died from the virus, most of them in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to the latest figures by the World Health Organization. (Yonhap)

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