Feb. 6 (UPI) -- North Korea could be inspecting water in the country's streams and lakes amid uncertainty regarding inflows from neighboring China, where the novel coronavirus outbreak has killed more than 560 people.
Pyongyang's state-controlled television channel KCTV said Thursday the regime's central emergency management command is launching investigations to "prevent the disease from entering the country," without mentioning China by name.
The government is "working in detail on a project to analyze the water quality of rivers and lakes that are being used to manufacture beverages," KCTV said.
The state channel added the regime is stepping up inspections of water quality to meet "standards of hygiene."
North Korea has declared a national emergency over the coronavirus crisis. On Sunday, North Korean state media had claimed 2019-nCoV could spread through fecal contamination. The rumor of fecal contamination may have triggered the water inspection plans, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap. Chinese sewage water can easily reach North Korea -- the countries share a 880-mile border.
North Korea has increased public health messaging on the virus since the outbreak. On KCTV, Nam Song Ho, identified as a manager at Pyongyang Medical College Hospital, urged North Koreans to not place bars of soap in public places because they can "cause the spread of the virus."
The massive outbreak in China could be posing a major dilemma for North Korea, a country that relies heavily on China for trade and tourists.
North Korea's Pyongyang Broadcasting claimed Thursday newly constructed Yangdok Hot Springs Resort has so far received nearly 25,000 visitors.
"Many workers and students are visiting the resort," state media said. In a separate report, KCTV said tens of thousands of North Koreans visited the Masikryong Ski Resort.
North Korea is poorly equipped to fend off an outbreak. Inadequate medical facilities and low immunity among the North Korean population are reasons for concern, defectors in the South have said.
South Korea's ruling Democratic Party said the situation in North Korea is being observed. Medical assistance should be considered, the party said, according to local news service Newsis on Thursday.