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WHO says N. Korea has yet to report infection

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) inspects flood relief. (KCNA-Yonhap)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) inspects flood relief. (KCNA-Yonhap)

The World Health Organization said it has been informed of zero coronavirus infection in North Korea so far, since the pandemic outbreak late last year.

“On COVID-19 response, WHO has been informed by the Ministry of Public Health, DPR Korea, that as of 20 August, 2,767 people have been tested for COVID-19 in the country and all have tested negative. WHO is yet to get details about the suspected case that was reported in Kaesong,” said Edwin Salvador, WHO representative to North Korea, which is formally the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

He told Voice of America in an email that 1,004 North Koreans and 382 foreign nationals are under quarantine, with border lockdowns still in place there.

“All international borders remain closed. Supplies coming to Nampho seaport remain suspended as there are no ships sailing in from China’s Dalian port where COVID-19 cases were detected. Only COVID-19 related shipments are being allowed through Sinuiju-Dandong border.”

About 25,000 coronavirus test kits, along with other medical supplies including thermometers and oxygen concentrators, have arrived in the isolated country, according to the WHO representative to the North.

Pyongyang is struggling to deal with extensive crop damage after being flooded by recent heavy rains, in another blow to the cash-strapped regime grappling with an economy battered by international sanctions.

Salvador said WHO has also secured emergency kits and other relief goods sufficient for 10,000 North Koreans affected by the heavy rains and the latest Typhoon Bavi, which hit the country this week.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has already offered relief goods to about 3,000 households in North Korea affected by the inclement weather.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made a stop in South Hwanghae Province, one of the hardest-hit regions bordering South Korea, and instructed his aides to minimize crop damage and invest in all measures to help out displaced residents, according to the Korean Central News Agency on Friday.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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