Advertisement

WHO: North Korea says all COVID-19 test results 'negative'

North Koreans have been undergoing COVID-19 tests ahead of October 10, the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Korean Workers' Party. Photo by KCNA
North Koreans have been undergoing COVID-19 tests ahead of October 10, the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Korean Workers' Party. Photo by KCNA

Oct. 1 (UPI) -- The World Health Organization says North Korea is reporting zero cases of COVID-19 after testing 3,374 people in the country.

Edwin Salvador, the WHO representative in Pyongyang, told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday that Pyongyang has said more than 3,300 tests have been administered and that all test results were negative.

Advertisement

The WHO statement could be a reflection of North Korean data, and not direct inspections. In August, U.N. Special Rapporteur Tomás Ojea Quintana told UPI the whole operation of the international community inside North Korea has been "completely blocked."

Salvador said the number of tests reflects data from Sept. 17, an indication North Korea could be expanding testing across the population. Some 2,767 people were reportedly tested through Aug. 20. The September number shows an additional 607 people were tested in about a month.

RELATED Instant noodles eaten on special occasions in North Korea, defector says

Salvador said all tested subjects were North Korean nationals. The country has become more isolated since the pandemic, and there is evidence the country has closed foreign embassies. U.N. staff on the ground has also been reduced, according to the organization.

The WHO official said the number of North Koreans in quarantine has declined by about 40%, from an August number of 1,004 people. Individuals were isolated because they were suspected patients. A total of 31,163 people have been quarantined since the start of the pandemic, North Korea has said, according to the WHO.

Advertisement

North Korea closed its 880-mile border with China in January, and has claimed zero cases of the coronavirus. State media continue to caution the public, however.

RELATED Japan rejects North Korea's statement on abducted citizens

Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said Thursday citizens should expand "emergency quarantine projects." Not even a "0.001% reduction" in the struggle against the coronavirus should be allowed, the paper said.

"If there is even a hole in the quarantine barrier, all achievements attained in the struggle will lose its luster in an instant," the paper said.

State media also said the "aggressive implementation of emergency quarantine projects is an urgent matter," because of the upcoming 75th anniversary of the founding of the Korean Workers' Party.

RELATED North Korea discussed 'defects' in COVID-19 policy, state media says

North Korea is expected to showcase its latest missiles on Oct. 10.

Latest Headlines