April 3 (UPI) -- North Korea disclosed more than 500 people have been quarantined in the country even as restrictions against resident foreigners may have been eased this past week.
Pyongyang's state-controlled news agency KCNA said Friday the state of emergency declared in January remains in effect until the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end. To prevent the introduction of new waves of the disease, more than 500 people are under quarantine, state media said.
The statement comes at a time when North Korea continues to claim there are zero cases of COVID-19 in the country.
According to KCNA, Pyongyang held a general meeting on national emergency prevention, during which some aspects of health policy enforcement were "strongly criticized."
The article did not go into detail about what may have gone wrong in North Korea's battle against the coronavirus. According to South Korean news agency Yonhap's analysis, officials may have slammed slack discipline amid nationwide preventative measures.
"Emergency response commanders at all levels are responsible for intercepting, containing, inspecting and quarantining" suspected patients, KCNA said.
"We will maintain the national emergency prevention system until this viral epidemic is eradicated."
KCNA also called on all North Korean hospitals and clinics to deliver all communications and "necessary data" on the disease for delivery to the central leadership.
State media did not provide details on where the quarantined population is located. KCNA did report North Pyongan Province, South Hwanghae Province, Jagang Province, Kangwon Province and the city of Kaesong had no individuals under quarantine.
COVID-19 may have had an impact on the number of North Korean defectors resettling in the South.
Seoul's unification ministry said Friday the number of North Koreans entering the South was the lowest in 11 years, according to South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo.
Year on year, the number of North Koreans resettling in the South in the first quarter of 2020 was down 41 percent, according to the report.