North Korea has temporarily banned foreign tourists in response to the outbreak of a dangerous new virus in neighboring China. Depending on how long the ban lasts, it could hurt North Korea's economy, which though heavily sanctioned, has received a boost by a recent influx of Chinese tourists.
Starting Wednesday, North Korea closed its borders to foreign tourists, according to Young Pioneer Tours, a China-based company that leads trips to North Korea. On its website, the company says it is not clear how long the suspension will last, but that authorities say they intend to reopen the border as soon as they institute precautionary measures.
The pneumonialike respiratory illness, which can be transmitted among humans, originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. It has infected more than 500 people, 17 of whom have died. Cases have been reported in countries including South Korea, Japan, the United States, and Thailand.
It is not the first time North Korea has banned visitors in response to international outbreaks of infectious diseases. In 2014, the country shut its borders for four months during the Ebola outbreak, even though the disease never reached Asia. North Korea also restricted some visitors during the SARS epidemic in 2003.
Source : VOA