North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has sent a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, the country’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Saturday, offering help and aid to Beijing amid an ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
In a move that comes as Pyongyang has taken a number of tough steps to prevent a possible outbreak of the virus within its own borders, state media reported that Kim has sent “warm greetings” to Chinese ruling party members and medical workers.
“[Kim] expressed deep consolation for the families who lost their blood relatives due to the infectious disease,” the KCNA reported, adding that “our party and people of the DPRK take the occurrences of the infectious disease cases in China and the losses of blood relatives in some Chinese families as those that happened in their own families.”
“The Supreme Leader conveyed his sincere feelings of wanting to share the suffering and trial of the fraternal Chinese people and to render help even a bit,” it continued.
“He expressed the conviction that the party, government and people of China would surely emerge victorious in the campaign to combat the disease under the wise guidance of General Secretary Xi Jinping.”
The Central Committee of the DPRK’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) has also sent an “emergency fund” to counterparts in the Communist Party of China (CPC), the report said, following a decision of its Politburo on Friday.
News of the letter accompanies reports Saturday in South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency that Pyongyang has dispatched ruling party official Kim Song Nam, known as a key Sino-DPRK interlocutor, to Beijing to discuss the coronavirus outbreak.
North Korea has now effectively closed its borders in a bid to prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus, which originated in central China and is now reported to have infected close to 12,000 people across the world.
Friday saw in-country foreign diplomats informed that the DPRK had suspended all flights between its capital and the Russian city of Vladivostok, just days after it emerged Air China flights between Pyongyang and Beijing would be suspended until at least the end of February.
South Korea that same day announced that the North had postponed plans to demolish South Korean-owned facilities at the Mount Kumgang resort, following a decision to temporarily close a jointly-run liaison office at Kaesong until the threat from the coronavirus was “completely resolved.”
The country has also banned all international tourism, as well as imposed a one-month quarantine on all foreigners visiting from abroad.
State media has described the threat of an outbreak as a matter of “national survival,” with authorities reported to have set up an “emergency quarantine command” in response.
Quarantine workers have been dispatched to provinces which border China, ruling party organ the Rodong Sinmun reported on Thursday, adding that those citizens “back from business trips” abroad are undergoing inspection for signs of infection.
North Korea is yet to report any cases of coronavirus infection in its territory.