North Korea flies foreign diplomats during the fight against the coronavirus

SEOUL: A special flight from North Korea that presumably transported dozens of diplomats and other foreigners arrived in the Far East of Russia on Monday while the country squeezes its closure to avoid it.

North Korea has not publicly confirmed a single case of COVID-19 disease, but its state media have reported that thousands of people have been quarantined as part of strict prevention measures.

Apparently, dozens of passengers, mostly masked and some accompanied by children, lined up at Pyongyang International Airport. North Korean health workers in white protective suits examined them for fever.

It was not immediately clear how many were sent to Vladivostok. The North raised a month-long quarantine on foreign diplomats based in Pyongyang on March 2, which allowed them to leave the country if necessary.

The airport website showed that Air Koyro flight 271 arrived at 10:49 a.m. local time.

Colin Crooks, the British ambassador to Pyongyang, tweeted: `` It is sad to say goodbye this morning to colleagues from the German embassy and the French (hash) North Korea office that are temporarily closing. '' He said the British embassy would remain open.

The French Foreign Ministry confirmed last week that it plans to temporarily close its cooperation office in Pyongyang.

`` North Korea has taken drastic containment measures since the end of January that mainly refer to foreign representative offices and seriously impede the operation of the French Cooperation Office in Pyongyang, '' the ministry said in a statement.

The North has described its anti-virus campaign as a matter of `` national existence '' by banning foreign tourists, closing almost all cross-border traffic with China, intensifying detection at entry points and mobilizing health workers to control residents and isolate those with symptoms

Many experts say that North Korea is highly vulnerable to infectious diseases due to its chronic shortage of medical supplies and outdated health care infrastructure.

State media reports suggest that about 7,000 North Koreans have been quarantined, 3,000 in the North Phyongan province that borders China, 2,420 in the South Phyongan province and 1,500 in others.