North Korea official suspected of having coronavirus 'shot dead for trip to public baths'

Quarantine staff in protective gear are pictured at Pyongyang International Airport (Image:

A North Korean official has reportedly been executed after he broke the terms of his coronavirus quarantine.

The trade official had been placed in medical quarantine after returning to the authoritarian country from China.

After the government worker was caught going to a public bath however, he was arrested and immediately shot, North Korean sources told Donga

A different official, who worked at the country's National Security Agency, was demoted to working on a farm because he hid a recent trip to China.

The North Korean government has claimed that there have been no cases of coronavirus within its borders but this has not been independently verified.

The suggestion has been met with scepticism by those outside the country, which shares a border with China where tens of thousands of cases have been confirmed.

“The North Korean authorities have told FAO that there are no cases of the new coronavirus, but we are suspicious of such claims,” Bir Mandal of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization told Korea Biomed.

Media outlets in the North Korean capital have admitted that some citizens have been quarantined.

Facing the possibility of the virus spreading through its population, the North Korean authority has taken some preventative measures.

It has closed its border with China and banned entry to all foreign tourists.

JoongAng Ilbo, a news outlet in the region, has contradicted claims that there have been no confirmed cases in the country.

A source told the paper that a Pyongyang citizen who recently returned from China has the disease.

Among the first to report fatalities in North Korea, the Seoul-based website Daily NK said five people had died in the critical northwestern city of Sinuiju, reports The Daily Beast.

Besides blocking international traffic, the North’s Korean Central News Agency reported the headquarters had ordered tests for everyone entering the capital city of Pyongyang by road and for anyone who had traveled outside the country.

Coronavirus cases across the world, and in China particularly, continue to rise.

The number of deaths from the disease has topped more than 1,300 in the central Hubei province, with nearly 50,000 infected as health chiefs introduce new clinical methods.

Authorities said the figure rose by 242 on Wednesday to 1,310.

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