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

6 2020 people wearing face masks walk in Pyongyang

Separately, it has also been reported that another official who tried to cover up his travels to China has been exiled to a farm within the country.

"Recent engine testing suggests North Korea may be prepared to flight-test even more capable ICBM design that could enhance Kim's ability to threaten our homeland during a crisis or conflict", he said.

The United States eased its approach on humanitarian aid past year as diplomacy stepped up with North Korea on its nuclear program but it still maintains tough restrictions, including a ban on all travel to the country by USA citizens.

A North Korean official who was caught breaking the country's coronavirus quarantine reportedly paid the ultimate price.

The United States has expressed deep concern about North Korea's vulnerability to the outbreak of a new virus and says it's ready to support efforts by USA and global aid organizations to contain the spread of the illness in the impoverished nation.

Already one of the most closed-off countries in the world, North Korea has stopped airline flights and train service with its neighbours, established weeks-long mandatory quarantines for recently arrived foreigners, suspended global tourism, and imposed a near-complete lockdown on cross-border travel.

Yesterday it was reported that a North Korean official was executed for breaching quarantine procedures.

"They are clearly lying as they don't want to show any weakness or that there is any threat to the regime", Kazianis told the outlet.

North Korea has entirely banned foreign tour groups, which come largely from China, according to a major tour operator.

But North Korea, with its dated health care system, is ill-equipped to handle the novel virus, according to aid workers.

"May I remind as well that many women and children suffer from malnutrition; these are factors that affect the immunity system and render humans more susceptible to infection", he added.

The statement comes on the heels of the Red Cross calling for an urgent exemption to sanctions against North Korea to help prevent an outbreak. "There is currently no other mode available for humanitarian intervention and we must act now".

North Korean media announced that the quarantine period had been extended to 30 days, and that all government institutions as well as foreigners living in North Korea were expected to obey it "unconditionally".

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