s a mysterious new SARS-like virus spreads across China from the central city of Wuhan, North Korea has opted to ban foreign tourists from entering the country.
The China-based Young Pioneer Tours informed media outlets on Wednesday about the decision, explaining that the Hermit Kingdom had decided to temporarily close its borders to all foreign tourists as a precaution to prevent the spread of the pneumonia-causing coronavirus.
This alleged ban has not yet been confirmed by North Korean authorities. It’s also not clear for how long tourists will remain prohibited from entering the country.
BREAKING North Korea temporarily closes borders in the face of coronavirus scare. If you have a tour booked with us in the next month, we will be in touch shortly. https://t.co/hkVTUM9oPC
— Young Pioneer Tours (@YPioneerTours) January 21, 2020
The virus first emerged last month in Wuhan. Infrared thermometers and travel restrictions were only put into place in the city this week, meaning that for weeks carriers of the virus were free to travel to other Chinese cities or to other countries.
So far, there have been more than 400 confirmed cases of the virus in mainland China to go along with a handful in other countries including South Korea, Japan, and Thailand. North Korea is the first to decide to ban tourists in response to the outbreak.
The vast majority of tourists who visit North Korea each year are from North Korea. The isolationist country is also known for being germophobic, suspending foreign tours for three months during the SARS scare of 2003.