North Korea recently placed Pyongyang and northern Jagang province under lockdown over virus concerns. Earlier this month, it imposed lockdown measures in other areas where officials found unauthorized goods and foreign currencies that were brought in, Ha cited the NIS as saying.
North Korea has also banned fishing and salt production at sea to prevent seawater from being infected with the virus, the NIS told lawmakers.
North Korea also made an unsuccessful hacking attempt on at least one South Korean pharmaceutical company. This company was trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine, the NIS said.
The agency has a mixed record in confirming developments in North Korea, one of the world’s most secretive nations. The NIS said it couldn’t immediately confirm the lawmakers’ accounts.
North Korea has maintained that it hasn’t found a single coronavirus case on its soil. Foreign experts doubt the claims, although it says it is making all-out efforts to prevent the virus’s spread. A major outbreak could have dire consequences. The North’s health care system remains crippled and suffers from a chronic lack of medical supplies.
Other measures the DPRK took
The pandemic forced North Korea to seal its border with China, its biggest trading partner and aid benefactor, in January.
The closure, along with a series of natural disasters over the summer, dealt a heavy blow to the North’s economy, which has been under punishing U.S.-led sanctions.
North Korea’s trade with China in the first 10 months of this year totaled $530 million, about 25 percent of the corresponding figure last year. The price of sugar and seasoning has shot up four times, Ha quoted the NIS as saying.
North Korea monitoring groups in Seoul said the North Korean won-to-dollar exchange rate recently fell significantly. This is because of few places to use foreign currency after the government cut off smuggling following the closure of the China border.
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