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North Korea postpones school amid coronavirus outbreak

North Korea has closed its border since the outbreak of the new strain of coronavirus in China. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/a5c4b24485be5ffcd7d5d33a28a23813/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
North Korea has closed its border since the outbreak of the new strain of coronavirus in China. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 27 (UPI) -- North Korea is delaying the opening of schools and kindergartens amid the ongoing outbreak of the new strain of coronavirus in China, according to state media.

Pyongyang's state-controlled Korean Central Broadcasting Station said Thursday childcare centers, kindergartens, schools and universities are expanding efforts to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

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"To prevent infections, school breaks for students have been extended," state media said.

North Korean winter breaks for schools last from January to mid-February. For universities, break ends at the end of January, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

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State media also said North Korean students are being mobilized to work in public health projects, including disease prevention and hygiene. On Wednesday, Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported Pyongyang had ordered the disinfection of trains.

North Korea has reported zero cases of COVID-19, despite evidence the disease travels quickly and outbreaks occur in clusters.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on North Korea human rights, called on North Korea on Wednesday to join forces with the international community and to break its isolation.

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North Korea is unprepared to deal with the outbreak of a deadly virus, according to international health experts.

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Pyongyang has sealed off its border and suspended all forms of transportation, but may be considering resuming flights between the North Korean capital and Vladivostok, Russia.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported Thursday special flights are under review, and North Korean and Russian officials are in discussion regarding a one-way flight out of North Korea for foreigners during the outbreak. Foreigners in North Korea who opt to take the flight cannot return for the duration of the crisis, or at least until North Korea lifts its ban on foreign travel, according to the report.

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Kim Jong Un has not made a public appearance since Feb. 15, when the North Korean leader visited Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang to mark his father's birth anniversary.

On Thursday, the Rodong published photos of officials of the Supreme People's Assembly near Mount Paektu, while wearing face masks. North Korean politicians are launching an expedition to revolutionary battle sites, according to state media.

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