|People wearing face masks walk on a street at the Munsu-dong diplomatic compound in Pyongyang Feb. 5, amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus. TASS|
|In this Feb. 1 photo, a State Commission of Quality Management staff member disinfects a ground transportation area at North Korea's Pyongyang Airport. AP|
By Jung Min-ho
North Korea has not reported any confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, a World Health Organization (WHO) official told The Korea Times Wednesday.
"WHO has not received any report of coronavirus cases from the Ministry of Public Health," Edwin Ceniza Salvador, the U.N. agency's representative to North Korea, said. "DPR Korea, like other countries, is taking measures to protect the health of its people."
Salvador said the WHO is working with all member states, including North Korea, to respond to the virus, which has killed more than 1,300 people and infected 60,000 in 29 countries in the past few weeks. Most of the victims are in China.
At North Korea's request, the WHO is providing laboratory reagents and personal protective equipment ― goggles, gloves, masks and gowns ― for use by health workers, he said.
"WHO is providing guidelines to member states, as well as technical support, to scale up existing measures to detect disease early, monitor at points of entry, isolate and treat cases, trace contacts and promote other actions commensurate with the risk," Salvador said.
"Supporting countries with supplies for diagnosing, clinical management and treating cases is a key WHO support during such events."
There have been media reports about cases in North Korea. But this is the first time the WHO has mentioned whether it has received any official data from there.
North Korea, which shares a border with China, has tightened entry and suspended air and train routes to the country after many cases were reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December.
North Korean media outlets have claimed that there have been no confirmed infection cases.