Coronavirus outbreak: North Korea reportedly shoots official dead

Ruben Fields
February 14, 2020

Kim In Tea, the INSS team's analyst who defected from North Korea a decade ago, asserted to the Times that the North Korean leader is focused on restructuring his government as he prepares for "a long-term stall in negotiations".

"We strongly support and encourage the work of USA and global aid and health organizations to counter and contain the spread of coronavirus in the DPRK", spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

"The North Koreans did not come through with any "Christmas present" and they have not taken any "new path" because they are well aware of the side effects that could be had", Lee said, adding the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's government was "wary of ruining the relationship it has successfully built with Russian Federation and China and the support it is getting from those two countries".

"The United States is ready and prepared to expeditiously facilitate the approval of assistance from these organizations".

The trade official, who had been placed in isolation after traveling to China, was arrested and immediately shot for risking the spread of the deadly disease, the Dong-a Ilbo news outlet in South Korea reported.

North Korea has remained adamant that there have been no cases of coronavirus within its borders, though experts outside the reclusive country - which shares an 880-mile-long border with China - have met that assertion with a healthy dose of skepticism.

World Health Organization officials based in Pyongyang said they had not been notified of any confirmed cases but their data relies on reports provided by the North Korean government.

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The admiral said the United States remains vigilant about the threats North Korea poses to its allies and partners, and is bolstering global approaches to reduce that risk. It has suspended flights and trains to and from China.

A North Korean trade official has reportedly been executed by firing squad for going to a public bath, in violation of his coronavirus quarantine after having returned from China.

Officials in tightly controlled North Korea have said nothing about coronavirus cases but state media this week said foreigners would undergo a 30-day quarantine.

Professor Kelly, from Pusan National University, has warned: "North Korea lacks the doctors, hospitals, reserves of medicine, modern medical devices, and so on to respond adequately and prevent a spiralling spread".

Jean Lee, the director of the Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History, agreed that the regime would be unable to cope with a full blown outbreak.

Nagi Shafik, former project manager for the World Health Organization's office in Pyongyang, said North Korean authorities would need supplies such as masks, antivirals and antibiotics.

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