| 27 February 2024, Tuesday |

China, N.Korea halt border rail crossing over COVID fears

Following consultations following COVID-19 infections in China’s border city of Dandong, the foreign ministry said on Friday that cross-border freight train services with North Korea have been discontinued.

North Korea relaxed border lockdowns imposed early in 2020 to combat the coronavirus, which foreign aid agencies blamed for the country’s deepening economic troubles and threats to millions of people’s food supplies.

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

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

Authorities in Seoul, the capital of neighbouring South Korea, said they were keeping watch on the situation.

The Chinese city of Dandong has been fighting a COVID-19 outbreak since late April, reporting 220 infections from April 24 to April 27.

By Wednesday, authorities had locked down 77 residential compounds, while people elsewhere were asked to keep to designated areas.

North Korea has not officially reported any COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began, but adopted border curbs among its anti-virus measures.

  • Reuters