North Korea's official newspaper reported Wednesday on the outbreak of a new type of pneumonia-like illness in China, as a tour agency reported that the North has temporarily shut down its borders with China as a precaution.
The new strain of coronavirus, also known as "Wuhan pneumonia," has killed at least six people and infected about 300 others in China alone, with countries such as the United States, Thailand, Japan and South Korea reporting its outbreak. North Korea has not reported any confirmed cases yet.
The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling party, carried an article detailing the outbreak of the virus in China and measures Beijing has taken to contain its spread.
"Damage has been reported in China as a new strain of coronavirus is fast spreading recently," the paper said. "With regard to the fast spread of the highly contagious disease, China has been taking corresponding measures."
The paper said that Chinese authorities have been beefing up monitoring on the movement of farming products, wild animals and travelers at airports and seaports as part of efforts to stem its further spread.
No confirmed case has been reported in North Korea, but it appears to be stepping up efforts to prevent the spread of the disease into the country.
State TV earlier reported that North Korea is closely cooperating with the World Health Organization to stem the outbreak of the virus.
Young Pioneer Tours, a tour agency specializing in travel to the North, also posted a notice on its website recently that the North will block its border with China temporarily from Wednesday to all foreign travelers as part of precautionary efforts to block the spread of the virus.
South Korea's unification ministry said that there has been no request from North Korea for beefed-up quarantine at a joint liaison office in the North's border town of Kaesong where officials of the two Koreas are stationed.
"We know that there have been no new developments," Lee Sang-min, the ministry's spokesperson, said in a press briefing.
"We will continue to closely watch situations in North Korea with regard to the Wuhan pneumonia."
The disease is presumed to have originated from the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Beijing has said the virus is not contagious among people, but experts do not rule out the possibility of its person-to-person transmission. (Yonhap)