Given the close proximity to China and South Korea, two of the countries with the highest number of coronavirus cases, foreign diplomats located in North Korea are set to be evacuated.
Although no cases have been confirmed in the country, the German, French and Swiss representatives in the country will leave in an effort to avoid infection.
The foreign diplomats will likely first be flown from the country’s capital, Pyongyang, to the city of Vladivostok in Russia’s far east.
According to CNN, the diplomats have been kept in complete isolation since early February. The exact number of foreign diplomats in North Korea is unclear but is said to be a few hundred.
State run media announced that once news of the coronavirus got out, the country promptly closed its borders and around 380 foreigners were put into isolation where they were kept for 30 days.
All flights departing and arriving in Pyongyang have been canceled.
Supreme leader warns of dire consequences of a coronavirus outbreak in North Korea
North Korean authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un has briefed the country’s top officials on the “serious consequences” that would result if the virus was not prevented from penetrating the country’s borders.
“In case the infectious disease spreading beyond control finds its way into our country, it will entail serious consequences,” Kim said.
According to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim warned the Workers’ Party of Korea officials, that the fight against the coronavirus would require a maximum amount of discipline.
Limited medical services
North Korea reportedly does not have the medical expertise or the supplies to handle the coronavirus outbreak should it occur in the communist country.
The country’s health officials are increasing efforts to stock up on medical supplies needed to handle a virus outbreak such as disinfectants and protective suits.
On February 27, the United Nations approved the delivery of diagnostic equipment to North Korea despite sanctions from the international committee.
“The UN’s North Korea sanctions committee quickly approved the shipment of goggles, thermometers, and stethoscopes into North Korea, along with kits to detect if sick persons there have the virus,” said the German Ambassador to the UN, Christoph Heusgen.
However, the UN is experiencing issues delivering the medical supplies to North Korea as the country has closed all of its borders.