US Comes to North Korea’s Rescue, Offers to Help Combat Coronavirus Threat

Representative image (Reuters)

Representative image (Reuters)

The US decision to help North Korea comes at a time when the nation is crippled with chronic lack of medical supplies and poor healthcare infrastructure.

Seoul: The United States has come forward to support aid work in North Korea to combat the Coronavirus threat, according to the country’s State Department.

Voicing alarm and deep concern over North Korea’s inability to counter the deadly disease, which has killed hundreds and sickened tens of thousands, the US also urged international aid organisations to come forward in this cause.

“We strongly support and encourage the work of US and international aid and health organizations to counter and contain the spread of coronavirus in the DPRK,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

“The United States is ready and prepared to expeditiously facilitate the approval of assistance from these organizations,” he added.

Although North Korea has yet to report a case of the new virus, but state media reports have hinted that an uncertain number of people have been quarantined after showing symptoms of the disease.

Experts have also opined that an epidemic in the nation could be dire because of its chronic lack of medical supplies and poor healthcare infrastructure.

The East Asian nation has already banned foreign tourists, intensified screening at airports, harbours and border areas. It has also mobilised some 30,000 health workers to monitor residents to prevent the spread of the virus.

The North also had rival South Korea withdraw dozens of officials from an inter-Korean liaison office in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, insisting on closing it until the epidemic is controlled.

The country has also announced it will impose a month-long quarantine for all foreign visitors and others suspected to have the virus.

“All the institutions and fields of the state and foreigners staying in the DPRK should obey it unconditionally,” the Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday.

The spread of the epidemic comes to be a serious problem with the possibility of international disaster. South Korea, which has reported 28 cases of the virus, said there’s a need for inter-Korean cooperation to contain the spread of the disease.

“Our government will consider public opinion before deciding whether to formally propose joint quarantine efforts with the North,” Cho Hey-sil, spokeswomen of Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which deals with inter-Korean affairs, said.

North Korea has virtually suspended all cooperation and diplomatic activities with the South in past months amid a standstill in large nuclear negotiations with the United States, which have faltered over disagreements in easing US-led sanctions against the North in exchange for the North’s disarmament steps.

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