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North Korea's Air Koryo posts flight schedule for Beijing route

North Korea’s national airline could be planning to resume flights to China, according to a South Korean press report. File Photo by Yonhap News Agency/UPI
North Korea’s national airline could be planning to resume flights to China, according to a South Korean press report. File Photo by Yonhap News Agency/UPI

April 1 (UPI) -- North Korea's Air Koryo disclosed flight plans for a route between Pyongyang and Beijing, but it is unclear whether flights have resumed amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

Air Koryo posted to its online website a schedule for flight JS251. According to the airline, the flight left at 4 p.m. local time and arrived at 5:50 p.m. in Beijing on Thursday, South Korean television network KBS reported.

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Global flight tracking service Flightradar24 did not show flight activity between 4 and 4:30 p.m. in the Pyongyang area, however, according to the report.

The public posting could be part of North Korean preparations to resume flights. North Korea suspended all international flights in January 2020 after closing its borders in the wake of the first outbreak in China.

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The pandemic has further isolated North Korea. Authorities have restricted internal movements while maintaining strict controls at the border, NGOs and defectors have said. Last year, North Korea killed and burned a South Korean official who may have either crossed into the North accidentally or was apprehended by North Korean guards.

Pyongyang has claimed the country has registered zero COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

The World Health Organization's latest weekly situation report on the Southeast Asia region stated North Korea again reported zero cumulative infections, citing the latest data from Pyongyang through March 18.

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North Korea also claimed it had administered 21,663 COVID-19 tests since last year, collecting a total of 43,052 samples.

"All were found negative for COVID-19," the report stated.

"This includes 753 persons who were tested during the week of March 12 to 18, 2021, of which 131 were people with influenza-like illness and/or severe acute respiratory infections."

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Edwin Salvador, the World Health Organization representative for North Korea, said the agency receives updates every week from Pyongyang, but the government has stopped issuing data on the number of people in isolation or quarantine, Radio Free Asia's Korean service reported.

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