Foreign diplomats to be evacuated from North Korea as country steps up efforts to prevent virus outbreak
A plan is in the works to evacuate quarantined foreign diplomats from North Korea, a source inside the country has revealed. “I would expect around 60 people to be on the flight,” a source said.
The German Embassy, French Cooperation Office, and Swiss Development Cooperation will close operations in the capital Pyongyang completely, said the source, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, given the extreme sensitivity of the current situation. Other countries with diplomatic missions in North Korea plan to scale down operations, the source added.
CNN previously reported foreign diplomats have been kept in complete isolation since early February, as the outbreak extended beyond mainland China. The exact number of foreign diplomats stationed inside North Korea is unknown, but is estimated to be just a few hundred. Diplomatic staff are not allowed to leave their compounds. All flights in and out of the country have also been suspended.
On Wednesday, North Korean state-run media reported that more than 380 foreign nationals had been placed in isolation. Individuals who had recently returned from trips overseas, as well as those who show abnormal symptoms are also under observation, according to the report.
North Korea has not confirmed a single case of the virus inside its borders, but global health experts have warned the country is highly susceptible to an outbreak given its close proximity to China and limited medical capabilities. Every other country in East Asia has confirmed numerous cases.
The apparent ramping up of efforts to contain the virus comes as neighboring South Korea reported 256 more confirmed cases of the virus on Friday morning, bringing the national total to 2,022, according to the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).