Beijing Vows to Strengthen Cooperation With North Korea in Fight Against COVID-19

© AFP 2022 / STRThis picture taken on May 15, 2022 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 16 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) inspecting a pharmacy in Pyongyang.
This picture taken on May 15, 2022 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 16 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) inspecting a pharmacy in Pyongyang.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.05.2022
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BEIJING (Sputnik) - China is ready to strengthen and maintain close coordination with North Korea to combat the upsurge in the spread of coronavirus infections, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday.
"China and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) are friendly neighbors and we are extremely concerned about the epidemic outbreak in North Korea. We are confident that under the leadership of the party and the government, the North Korean people will certainly be able to win the fight against the epidemic," Zhao told a briefing.
The diplomat noted that "the Chinese side is ready to strengthen anti-epidemic cooperation with North Korea and maintain close coordination on this issue."
At the same time, Zhao said he lacked relevant information, answering the question on what kind of assistance China is ready to provide to Pyongyang and whether Beijing considers sending vaccines or health care personnel to the country.
Bottles of hand sanitizer are placed at the Imjingak Pavilion in Paju, South Korea, near the border with North Korea, Sunday, May 15, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.05.2022
North Korea Mobilizes Military to Stabilize Medicine Supplies - Reports
Last Thursday, Pyongyang announced the first wave of COVID-19 cases in the country, as several citizens tested positive for the Omicron BA.2 variant. According to the Korean Central News Agency, an "unfamiliar fever" has been spreading in the country since late April. The fever is believed to be COVID-19, but the exact number of patients remains unknown.
On Sunday, North Korea confirmed over 392,000 new cases and eight deaths. To date, the country's total number of infections has reportedly reached over 1.2 million, including 50 deaths.
North Korea has implemented a "maximum emergency" virus control system. At the direction of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, a lockdown has been introduced in all cities and counties in order to stop the spread of the virus.
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