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North Korea Suspends All Air, Train Links to China

Pedestrians brave the cold, Jan. 30, 2020, in Pyongyang, North Korea. In an interview, North Korea's Ministry of Health Director Kim Dong Gu says the country is intensifying efforts to prevent the spread of a new virus from China.

North Korea has suspended air and train service to and from China to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The virus was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December. It has since spread to more than two dozen countries worldwide.

North Korea temporarily suspended “all air and train routes between North Korea and China” as of Friday amid the global epidemic scare, according to the British Foreign Ministry.

The latest move intensifies the efforts North Korea is taking to protect itself. Last week it shut the borders it shares with China.

As of Friday, North Korea has not reported any confirmed cases as the number of cases and deaths related to the virus continue to increase worldwide.

North Korea is also taking precautionary measures to close its border with South Korea, where there were 12 confirmed cases as of Friday.

On Thursday, Pyongyang requested that Seoul close their inter-Korean liaison office in North Korea’s border town of Kaesong until the virus is “completely eased.” South Korea complied.

North Korea also notified that its demand made in October for South Korea to tear down resort facilities on the North’s tourist site of Mount Kumgang should be postponed.

North Korea has called closing its borders against the coronavirus a matter of “national existence.”

Pyongyang is worried that its rudimentary medical care system will not be able cope with the virus if it spreads, Kim Sin-gon, a professor at Korea University’s College of Medicine in Seoul, said.

Kim said North Korea “does not have [a] sufficient [medical] care [system] to treat the problem … and therefore is responding with hypersensitivity.”

Cho Sang-jin, Han Mi-Sang and Christy Lee contributed to this report which originated in VOA’s Korean Service.