North Korea orders Ebola quarantine on all foreigners

A roller-coaster at an amusement park in North Korea where locals and tourists go. North Korea has announced it intends to quarantine all foreigners entering the country for 21 days, no matter what their country of origin, as a measure against the sp
A roller-coaster at an amusement park in North Korea where locals and tourists go. North Korea has announced it intends to quarantine all foreigners entering the country for 21 days, no matter what their country of origin, as a measure against the spread of the Ebola virus. -- PHOTO: ARAM PAN

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea has announced it intends to quarantine all foreigners entering the country for 21 days, no matter what their country of origin, as a measure against the spread of the Ebola virus.

Britain, which has an embassy in Pyongyang, issued a travel advisory on its government website Thursday, detailing the quarantine order which was apparently issued to all foreign missions in the North Korean capital.

According to the advisory, travellers to North Korea from regions or countries that Pyongyang considers affected by the Ebola virus, will be quarantined for 21 days "in a government-appointed hotel under medical supervision".

Travellers from any other country or region will also be quarantined in hotels appointed by the organisation hosting their visit.

Diplomatic personnel and members of international organisations resident in the North "will be quarantined in their respective missions," the British advisory cited the North Korean order as saying.

It was unclear if the quarantine requirement applied to foreigners already inside North Korea when the order was issued.

North Korea, which has not registered a single suspected case of Ebola, announced last week that it was closing its borders to foreign tourists because of concerns about the spread of the virus.

That measure did not appear to apply to business and official travellers.

North Korea's official KCNA news agency said stringent checks and quarantine procedures were being carried out at airfields, trading ports and border railway stations.

The reclusive country, which receives a tiny number of foreign visitors, has a history of shutting itself off in the face of external health threats.

In 2003, it suspended foreign tours for three months due to fears over the spread of Sars.

The Ebola outbreak that has been ravaging West Africa has claimed 4,922 lives, according to the latest update from the WHO. The vast majority of deaths have been in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Some US states like New Jersey and New York have imposed mandatory quarantines on individuals returning from treating Ebola-infected patients in West Africa.