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N. Korea eases coronavirus restriction on foreigners

A crowd gathered in front of an outdoor TV screen in Pyongyang. (AFP-Yonhap)
A crowd gathered in front of an outdoor TV screen in Pyongyang. (AFP-Yonhap)
North Korea has eased coronavirus restrictions on foreigners, allowing them to go to shops and restaurants, according to the Russian mission in Pyongyang on Thursday.

The North Korean foreign ministry's protocol department issued the notice to all embassies and international organization offices, saying that foreigners are allowed to visit all shops, restaurants and customer services, including the central market in Tongin Street, the Russian Embassy said in a Facebook post.

The department urged all foreigners to continue to follow anti-virus regulations of each institution and wear medical masks until the state emergency system against the COVID-19 virus has been lifted.

The embassy said it regards the recent easing of restrictions as evidence of the effective measures taken by the North to prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus. It also said that it was pleased to see the restrictions ease after nearly two months.

Since early February, North Korea has quarantined about 380 foreigners in the country as part of efforts to prevent an outbreak of the new coronavirus.

A recent media report showed that most of those who were quarantined have been released, though the activities of the diplomats and foreigners have appeared to be restricted.

The North has not reported any confirmed COVID-19 virus infections, but speculation persists that it might be concealing an outbreak that is possibly spiraling out of control.

North Korea could be vulnerable, as it shares a long and porous border with China and lacks key medical supplies and infrastructure to test and treat infected people. (Yonhap)

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