January 30, 2020 10:28
North Korea has suspended trade with China and its consulates there stopped issuing visas Tuesday amid the rapid spread of coronavirus.
Trade with China is virtually the regime's sole economic lifeline, which suggests how desperate it is to prevent the outbreak from spreading through North Korea, which lacks medical facilities and supplies to deal with any epidemic.
All cargo traffic from the Chinese border town of Dandong to Sinuiju has been blocked since Tuesday. Radio Free Asia quoted a source in North Pyongan Province as saying the customs checkpoints have not officially closed but are letting no cargo trucks through.
A source in the Chinese city of Shenyang told RFA that the North Korean Consulate there put up a notice on Monday that it would not issue visas.
Earlier, the regime banned all Chinese tourists and made it mandatory for all foreigners arriving via China to be kept in quarantine for a month and undergo health checks.
"The North has a poor epidemic control system that could collapse if its quarantine seals are broken," a former Unification Ministry official here said.
The North Korean state media are stressing the need every day to block the spread of the new virus under any circumstances.
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