North Korea says China dust could spread COVID-19, warns people to stay
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[October 24, 2020]
By Hyun Young Yi and Heekyong Yang
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has warned
its citizens to stay indoors, saying seasonal yellow dust blowing in
from China might carry the new coronavirus into the country.
"As the new coronavirus infections continue to spread around the world,
the need to deal with the yellow dust and take thorough measures has
become more critical," North Korea's official party newspaper Rodong
Sinmun said on Thursday.
The claim that the virus that causes COVID-19 could spread to North
Korea from the Gobi desert, 1,900 km (1,200 miles) away, appears
unsupported. Two metres (6 feet) is a common social-distancing metric,
although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says
droplets containing the virus can sometimes linger in the air for hours.
The North Korean newspaper said citizens should refrain from outdoor
activities and must follow prevention guidelines such as wearing masks
when they go outside.
North Korea has reported no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, a claim
that health experts question. Pyongyang has imposed strict border
controls and quarantine measures to prevent an outbreak. Analysts say an
outbreak could be devastating for the economically and politically
State-run KRT television said on Wednesday the yellow dust and fine dust
may contain harmful substances, such as heavy metals and pathogenic
microorganisms including viruses.
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A trolley bus is disinfected amid fears over the spread of the novel
coronavirus in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo taken on
February 22, 2020 and released by Kyodo February 23, 2020. Picture
taken February 22, 2020. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
"People must pay attention to personal hygiene after returning from
outside," a news reader said. "Also, workers should avoid outdoor
construction work even at reconstruction sites."
On Thursday, the Russian embassy in North Korea wrote on Facebook
that North Korea's Foreign Ministry had ordered all visitors to the
country and its staff to wait out the dust storm inside.
(Reporting by Hyun Young Yi and Heekyong Yang; Editing by William
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