North Korea reportedly quarantines 380 foreigners

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In this photo taken on February 6, 2020, a worker of the Songyo Knitwear Factory in Pyongyang produces masks for protection against the new coronavirus.

KIM WON-JIN | AFP via Getty Images

North Korea has reportedly quarantined 380 foreigners as part of efforts to prevent the coronavirus outbreak.

The majority of those quarantined are thought to be diplomats stationed in the capital city of Pyongyang, Yonhap news agency reported Monday, citing state media in North Korea.

It was not immediately clear how long the quarantine period would last, while the nationalities of those in isolation have not yet been revealed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously said it has had no indication of COVID-19 having spread to North Korea.

The virus, which first emerged in China late last year, has since spread to more than two dozen countries. The WHO has declared the outbreak a global health emergency.

On Monday, China’s National Health Commission reported an additional 409 cases of the coronavirus, with 150 deaths. That brings the total number of confirmed infections to 77,150, with 2,592 deaths nationwide.

South Korea, which has reported the highest number of cases outside China, has confirmed more than 763 cases of the coronavirus nationwide, with a total of seven deaths. The country is separated from North Korea by the so-called demilitarized zone (DMZ), which is approximately 154 miles long and 2.5 miles wide.

Italy has reported the highest number of cases in Europe, with more than 150 confirmed infections of the deadly flu-like virus.

What’s happening in North Korea?

As part of efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, North Korea has reportedly intensified medical monitoring and testing measures on those who have returned from overseas travel and those showing “abnormal” symptoms.

North Korea has also put measures in place to ensure all foreigners coming into the country must be quarantined for a period of 30 days.

The isolated regime has repeatedly denied any confirmed cases of the coronavirus. That’s despite concerns North Korea would be vulnerable to an outbreak given it shares a long and porous border with China and lacks vital medical supplies and infrastructure to cope with a fast-spreading virus.

Late last week, North Korea canceled its Pyongyang Marathon amid heightened fears about COVID-19. The race had been scheduled to take place in April.

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