North Korea has reported zero cases of COVID-19 to the World Health Organization, but is requiring foreign diplomats to abide by enhanced quarantine procedures. File Photo by Andrew Wong/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 8 (UPI) -- North Korea is strengthening COVID-19 quarantine and screening procedures for foreign diplomats who remain in Pyongyang, according to the Russian Embassy.
The Embassy said Tuesday on its Facebook page North Korean authorities have sent an official notice to all foreign missions, informing them of updates to measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
North Korea has reported zero cases to the World Health Organization since the start of the pandemic.
North Korea's foreign ministry is conducting temperature checks in a neighborhood of foreign missions in Pyongyang and at the entrances of the Chinese and Russian Embassies, the Russian Embassy said, according to South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo.
North Korean authorities also urged members of the diplomatic community to maintain about 7 feet apart and avoid hugs and handshakes during meetings. Religious gatherings for foreigners must be limited to 15 people, and meetings at restaurants must not exceed a maximum capacity of 10 people, the ministry said, according to Moscow.
The Embassy also said a nearby park, the Ryongaksan Pleasure Ground, has been "closed again." Restaurants in Pyongyang must abide by a 9 p.m. curfew and office workers are required to go home after 6 p.m.
The statement from the Russian Embassy comes after North Korea suspended flights from China and Russia. Pyongyang has not provided reasons for the cancellations and confirmed no COVID-19 cases in connection to cross-border movement.
International aid agencies previously said all foreign workers have left North Korea after the regime raised its coronavirus alert to the highest level.
The reduction of international staff could be impeding the delivery of aid to the impoverished North, but South Korea said it stands ready to help.
South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young said Tuesday Seoul is willing to cooperate with the North on COVID-19 and expects a response from Pyongyang in January, according to the Korea Herald.
Pyongyang has in the past rejected the South's offers of economic cooperation.