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WHO: Pyongyang's Ebola Travel Ban Unnecessary

Foreigners and North Koreans, facing increased safety measures to prevent the possible spread of Ebola, board a Beijing-bound Air Koryo flight in Pyongyang, Oct. 28, 2014.

The World Health Organization says North Korea did not need to impose a ban on foreign tourists because of fears of the Ebola virus.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told VOA on Tuesday that his organization does not recommend any travel ban and doesn’t recommend any closure of borders.

“The only two groups of people who are not supposed to travel are those who are infected with Ebola,” he said. “Those who are identified as close contacts of those who are infected with Ebola and are under observation for 21 days. Other than that, there should be no restriction on travel."

Last week, North Korea announced that no foreign tourists would be allowed to enter in an apparent attempt to prevent the spread of the deadly virus into the country.

The travel ban was not announced in advance, prompting tour operators to cancel planned trips on short notice.

Koryo Tours, a travel operator that specializes in North Korean tours, alerted travelers of the ban on its Twitter and Facebook accounts a day before the restriction was enforced.

Recently, North Korea has stepped-up efforts to increase public awareness of the disease and its symptoms.

But so far, there have been no reported cases of Ebola in the country.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.

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