The United States released a statement Thursday offering to help US and global organizations in North Korea contain the spread of the virus.
While it was presumed Pyongyang would conduct an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test around the beginning of the new year, South Korean analysts contend that North Korea reconsidered the launch in an effort to not irritate its ally China amid the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic.
North Korea has yet to report a case of the new virus, but state media reports have hinted that an uncertain number of people have been quarantined after showing symptoms.
North Korean media announced that the quarantine period had been extended to 30 days, and that all government institutions as well as foreigners living in North Korea were expected to obey it "unconditionally".
"We strongly support and encourage the work of USA and global aid and health organizations to counter and contain the spread of coronavirus in the DPRK", spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
"The United States is ready and prepared to expeditiously facilitate the approval of assistance from these organizations". Experts say an epidemic in North Korea could be dire because of its chronic lack of medical supplies and poor health care infrastructure.
A North Korean official with Coronavirus has been executed by the government.
Already one of the most closed-off countries in the world, North Korea has stopped airline flights and train service with its neighbours, established weeks-long mandatory quarantines for recently arrived foreigners, suspended global tourism, and imposed a near-complete lockdown on cross-border travel. "The spread of the epidemic comes to be a serious problem with the possibility of worldwide disaster".
North Korea has virtually suspended all cooperation and diplomatic activities with the South in past months amid a standstill in large nuclear negotiations with the United States, which have faltered over disagreements in easing US-led sanctions against the North in exchange for the North's disarmament steps.