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FAO doubts NK claim of zero COVID-19 cases


An official of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations expressed doubt over North Korea’s claim that there were no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the country, Voice of America reported Thursday.

Bir Mandal, deputy FAO representative in North Korea, said Wednesday that his team doubted North Korea’s claim that there were zero cases of the COVID-19 infection in the country, according to the US broadcaster.

Mandal did not offer any reasons, however, for the suspicions, VOA added.

International organizations were being affected by North Korea’s border closure and restrictions on foreigners, according to Mandal.

The FAO official mentioned that a staff member of the World Health Organization’s Pyongyang office visited Thailand via China last month, and is unable to return to North Korea.

The Russian Embassy in Pyongyang said earlier that the North Korean Foreign Ministry has prohibited foreign diplomats from entering or leaving the country as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Members of diplomatic missions or international organizations who must visit Pyongyang were required to be quarantined for 15 days before entering the capital as of Jan. 31. The quarantine period has been extended to 30 days since Feb. 12.

By Kim So-hyun (