Ebola-Free N. Korea Freaks Out Over Ebola

All foreigners entering will be put in mandatory 21-day quarantine
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2014 12:46 PM CDT
Ebola-Free N. Korea Freaks Out Over Ebola
This Oct. 28, 2014, photo shows foreigners and North Koreans riding a shuttle bus at the Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea.   (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

"For the record: There have been no cases of Ebola in North Korea," writes Eric Talmadge, AP's bureau chief in Pyongyang, in a look at the latest threat that has North Korea all aflutter. Namely, Ebola. Though the nearest confirmed case is 6,000 miles away—and the North's frosty relations and lack of contact with the outside world, especially the stricken countries of West Africa, put it among the world's least likely countries due for an outbreak—the government is getting ready: In its strongest move to lock out the virus yet, Pyongyang announced today that all foreigners entering the country would be subject to a mandatory 21-day quarantine, regardless of nation of origin.

It's just the latest in a country where a Japanese delegation that arrived this week was greeted by people in hazmat suits, tourists have been banned (though somewhat vaguely, and few tourists are allowed anyway), and border crossings are being fortified. "Our army, which protects our borders, has a high responsibility to block the disease," says one official in the city of Nampo. "We are strengthening quarantine education and thoroughly inspecting boats and planes to ensure that not even a single person carrying the disease enters our country." The Choson Exchange blog writes that the crackdown underscores "that North Korea's 'fear of the foreign' outweighs their interest in whatever benefits foreign investment brings." (Meanwhile, Pyongyang recently let Talmadge take a pretty unique road trip.)

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