Ebola Fears Prompt Capital Restrictions

In its effort to stamp out the potential
threat of Ebola transmission that has ravaged West African countries, North
Korea has placed travel restrictions on those entering Pyongyang, the Daily NK
has learned.

In order to prevent transmission of the
Ebola virus, a central command office for hygiene and quarantine has been set
up,
a source in North Hamgyung Province told the Daily
NK on Tuesday.
They have also been placing limits on
travel permits for people in regional areas since mid-October to try to curb
entry into Pyongyang.

They arent
issuing travel permits to Pyongyang for those on personal business, such as for
family events,
the source said. For state officials who have access to Pyongyang, they now have to
go through the cumbersome process of receiving an epidemiological certificate
from the provincial quarantine office.

From above [Central Party], they have
asked that work-related issues be taken care of over the phone in order to
reduce unnecessary movement of people,
he reported. These measures have caused losses for provincial trade workers and
merchants.

North Korea usually issues approval numbers
to limit those traveling on personal or official business to Pyongyang under
the pretext of protecting the capital, as well as to the border areas. The
numbers are handed out after Pyongyang
s State Security
Department [SSD] approves applications first issued by provincial SSD offices.

The application for travel to Pyongyang,
which was previously only restricted through the numerical approval system, has
now become more difficult with an additional requirement of submitting a health
certificate. This move is seen as the North
s effort to
discourage travel to preclude potential transmission of the Ebola virus.

Roughly a decade ago, when the avian
influenza was spreading within the country, the North placed restrictions on
travel to the capital, also requiring certificates from provincial quarantine
offices.

It is likely the North is taking such
precautions out of fear the country might see an outbreak of the virus, as it
does not have the means to track down the channel of transmission in the case
of an Ebola infection, let alone the medical equipment or drugs to treat
patients. This serves as testimony to how outdated the country
s health and quarantine system is and why the nation is placing so
much attention on the epidemic
.

 

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