North Korea expands quarantine measures for foreign nationals to prevent spread of COVID-19. Tourist travel remains suspended as of Feb. 24.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert began 24 Feb 2020 08:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 16 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Preventative restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions; possible quarantine

Summary
North Korea has intensified its prevention efforts to inhibit the spread of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) into the country. Authorities have canceled all inbound tourist visits since Jan. 22 and closed the Dandong-Sinuiju border crossing to Chinese tourists. Officials are conducting increased health screenings for business travelers to the country and extended the quarantine period for diplomats and other business travelers to 30 days Feb. 20. However, it remains unclear if the quarantine period is at home or medical facilities; state media reported at least 380 people had been "isolated" since late January.

Leaders have called for increased security along the border with China, including North Pyongan, Changang, Ryanggang, and North Hamgyong provinces. Reports also indicate that the military has cracked down on smuggling across the border in recent weeks. The government has closed all schools in the country through March 20. Though universities in Pyongyang will close, students from outside the capital are remaining in dorms. Authorities are reportedly screening passengers into Pyongyang; however, there have been no indications of widespread transport disruptions within North Korea.

Background and Analysis
The precautionary measures follow a significant increase in reported cases of COVID in China and South Korea. Despite the claims of no COVID-19 cases, experts have questioned the official case count due to limited ability to test for the disease outside of Pyongyang, the delay in Chinese reporting on the extent of COVID-19 activity, and frequent travel across the border. North Korean authorities imposed strict inbound travel restrictions and quarantine measures during an Ebola outbreak in parts of West Africa in 2014 and during the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in East Asia.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Consider deferring nonessential travel to North Korea due to quarantine measures; delay travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19. Contact travel providers for reservation status if scheduled to visit North Korea in the coming months.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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