China, North Korea stop border crossing by rail due to COVID-19 fears

China has suspended cross-border freight services with North Korea following consultations following COVID-19 infections in the border city of Dandong, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

The suspension came within four months after North Korea eased border barriers enforced in early 2020 against coronavirus, measures global aid groups have blamed for its worsening economic problems and risks to food supplies for millions.

“Due to the COVID situation in Dandong, after friendly consultation between the two sides, China has decided to suspend freight services from Dandong to Sinuiju,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing in Beijing.

South Korean news agency Yonhap said Dandong authorities had acted on a request from North Korea, citing unidentified sources.

Authorities in Seoul, the capital of neighboring South Korea, said they were keeping an eye on the situation.

The Chinese city of Dandong has been battling a COVID-19 outbreak since late April and has reported 220 infections from April 24 to April 27.

On Wednesday, authorities had locked down 77 residential areas, while people elsewhere were asked to stick to designated areas.

North Korea has not officially reported any COVID-19 infections since the pandemic started, but has adopted border edges among its antivirus measures.

Also read: Oil prices fall as mass testing of COVID-19 begins in China

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