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N. Korea in high alert over a possible COVID-19 outbreak Updated: 2020-07-30 08:50:26 KST

We turn now to the SITUATION ACROSS the BORDER.
More PEOPLE in North Korea have been tested for COVID-19 and while Pyeongyang has yet to CONFIRM its FIRST CASE it APPEARS to be GOING OUT of its WAY to CONTAIN an outbreak.
I have our North Korean affairs correspondent Hong Yoo here in the studio today.
Good to see you again Yoo.

Let's begin with the tests for the virus.

Sunhee, the World Health Organization said Wednesday that a total of 1,211 people have been tested for COVID-19 in North Korea as of July 16 and they have all tested negative.
Edwin Salvador, the representative of WHO office in Pyeongyang said that currently 696 North Koreans are under quarantine.
These are people that handle cargo coming into Nampo, North Korea's largest port, and the border city of Sinuiju .
He added that the North's border still remains closed, but it is allowing the movement of aid shipments such as vaccines and medical supplies needed to contain COVID-19.
The WHO is sharing its COVID-19 guidelines with the regime's health authorities and modifying it to accommodate North Korea's situation.
At the moment, they are classifying people showing symptoms of the virus into three different groups.
They include those being tested, traced, and treated under isolation, in which suspected patients are being quarantined at designated rural or military hospitals.

Yoo there are concerns over the supplies of test kits in North Korea.
How are officials there managing the situation?

The recent spike was due to the regime's strengthened monitoring amid the recent uptick of cases in China.
Plus, with a new cluster infection being reported in the Chinese port city of Dalian, North Korea is intensely monitoring its border areas near China.
North Korea has a total of 15 laboratories designated to test COVID-19.
The WHO says primers and probes for machines used to test COVID-19 have arrived to facilitate 1-thousand test kits sent from its South-East Asia Regional Office.
UNICEF is also sending medical equipment needed for their project in North Korea on mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tuberculosis and malaria.
The UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea announced on Wednesday that it granted a sanctions waiver for such aid by UNICEF last Friday.
The equipment includes respirators and cardiopulmonary resuscitation tools worth more than 750-thousand U.S. dollars.
A one-year waiver has been granted to those supplies bound for North Korea, 6-months longer than the usual exemption, as transporting goods has become difficult due to COVID-19.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reportedly called for a "maximum emergency alert" this past Saturday claiming that an ex-defector who had returned from South Korea was showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Do you have any updates on this story?

North Korea's second-in-command Choe Ryong-hae has conducted an emergency virus inspection of Gaeseong, the city where a defector from the South who reportedly had COVID-19 symptoms returned to on July 19th.
The North's state-run Korean Central News Agency reported today that Choe inspected virus prevention efforts in the city that has been on lockdown since last Friday.
He ordered local officials to make sure food and medical supplies are provided to residents and that strict containment measures are in place.
Everyone who have been to Gaeseong are being isolated and monitored for symptoms of COVID-19.
North Korea's state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun published photos of medical personnel on the streets wearing protective gear, taking temperatures from drivers and sterilizing cars.
Pyeongyang's health minister O Chun-bok said at the emergency politburo meeting of the Workers' Party on Saturday, that the North was at risk of witnessing an outbreak stemming from the ex-defector with COVID-19 symptoms.
Nevertheless, South Korea's new Minister of Unification Lee In-young said he hopes to cooperate with North Korea in containing COVID-19.
Let's take a listen:

"I am aware that the situation in Gaeseong is pretty serious and I am concerned about the livelihoods and the health of its residents. If we have the chance, we want to cooperate with North Korea in containing COVID-19. We are taking into account various scenarios and coming up with appropriate measures."

For the first time since the defector allegedly showing symptoms returned to North Korea from the South, Rodong Sinmun reported today that they have zero confirmed case.
Nonetheless, North Korea has ordered foreign diplomats in Pyeongyang and workers at humanitarian organizations to stay in the capital city and not travel to other locations.
Everyone is being required to wear face masks as well.

Thank you for that coverage Yoo.

My pleasure.
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