By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA (AA) – North Korea on Friday confirmed it “forcibly” quarantined people to stem the spread of the coronavirus, local media reported.
The communist state also said that all but three foreigners, who were quarantined in the country, have been released on March 19, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
It said that over 2,590 citizens in North and South Phyongan provinces were freed from the quarantine, the state media reported without divulging further details.
Pyongyang has not reported any case of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.
North Korea's authoritarian administration led by Kim Jong-un claims to have taken strict measures to prevent the outbreak in the country — which is facing severe sanctions over its nuclear program crippling its economy.
Urging people to keep streets, villages and worksites “more tidy and clean”, the country’s Central Emergency Anti-Epidemic Headquarters has called for disinfection on a regular basis.
Reports had emerged earlier that people were forcibly quarantined.
The coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China last December and has spread to at least 160 countries and territories. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a pandemic.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide has now surpassed 246,000 while the death toll exceeds 10,031 and over 86,000 have recovered, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the U.S.