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North Korea Quarantines Visiting Foreigners to Protect Against Ebola

All foreigners arriving in North Korea to be quarantined for 21 days, regardless of where they are coming from.
October 31, 2014, 6:30pm
Jon Flawed/Flickr

It's probably fair to say that of all of the countries in the world, North Korea would be placed on the more paranoid end of the spectrum. And the Hermit Kingdom's freshly-implemented Ebola precautions do nothing to dispel that image.

Since October 25 all tourists have been banned from entering the country. Today, the state announced that every foreigner who circumvents the current ban will be quarantined for a period of 21 days, regardless of where they have come from, the AP reports.


"Those arriving via the airport at Pyongyang will be held at Chongchongang Hotel in Anju City. Those arriving from Dandong will be held at Amnokgang hotel in Sinuiju," Dylan Harris of Lupine Travel — a company that specializes in tours to the secretive country — told VICE News. "This is only for those who North Korea considers high risk."

"The others will be quarantined in hotels appointed by their host organization," he added. "Diplomatic staff, NGOs etc., are to stay in their respective missions."

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Harris told VICE News that those scheduled to leave before the 21-day period is up will be free to travel out of the country, but for people who have planned trips over the next few months the likelihood of being given permission to enter is less certain.

"At the moment we don't know when the borders will be reopened again," he said.

Harris cited information from partners in North Korea and Ray Davidson, the second secretary at the British Embassy, in Pyongyang,

The Daily NK, a Seoul-run site focused on North Korea, quoted a source from inside the country as saying: "A central command office for hygiene and quarantine has been set up." The site's sources also said that the Central Party has asked that, internally, "work-related issues be taken care of over the phone in order to reduce unnecessary movement of people. These measures have caused losses for provincial trade workers and merchants."


South Korea's Yonhap News Agency said that the North's state-run Pyongyang Radio announced: "We are doubling our efforts to detect potential patients in time."

The DPRK is approximately 8000 miles from Liberia, the country that has experienced the largest Ebola outbreak. The only direct flights to capital city Pyongyang come from either China or Russia — neither of which has reported a case of Ebola. The closest case of the virus is probably in Spain, approximately 6,000 miles away.

Earlier this week AP reported that a high-level delegation that arrived to Pyongyang from Japan was met off the plane by two people in full hazardous materials suits.

The British Foreign Office has warned of the restrictions, though their website also states that "the political situation in North Korea has been relatively calm" in recent months.

The number of confirmed cases globally is currently at 13,7567, and the total deaths from Ebola is at 4,951, according to the World Health Organization.

North Korea isn't the only country considered to be going overboard with their Ebola precautions. Last week, Rwanda announced that it would require daily health updates from all American and Spanish visitors for the duration of their stay, though the government changed its mind a day later. This was believed to be in retaliation to a US school asking Rwandan children to stay at home, even though Rwanda has experienced no cases of Ebola to date.

Blackmailers are threatening the Czech Republic with Ebola for bitcoin payment. Read more here.

Follow Sally Hayden on Twitter: @sallyhayd

Image via Flickr/Jon Flawed