Amid the unprecedented coronavirus outbreak, North Korea has cancelled its Pyongyang Marathon which was scheduled for April. The marathon has been called off due to border lockdown and travel curbs to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. However, according to Young Pioneer Tours, Pyongyang's Autumn Marathon set for September is still scheduled to go ahead.
A statement released by Young Pioneer Tours on their official website read, “We have received confirmation from our travel partners in North Korea that the Pyongyang Marathon (Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon) held in April has been cancelled due to the current borders of the DPRK being closed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) virus”.
The statement further read, “We are happy to announce that the Pyongyang Marathon in September this year is still scheduled to go ahead and is open for registrations”.
First detected in the city of Wuhan, in Hubei Province of China, the virus outbreak has now spread across more than 60 countries since December 2019. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that it had no indications of the virus has spread to North Korea. Kim Jong-un, North Korea's supreme leader has also called for stronger efforts to guard against coronavirus outbreak and reportedly said that there will be 'serious consequences' if the epidemic outbreak spreads to the country.
Pyongyang has reportedly been pushing a tough anti-virus campaign it has described as a matter of 'national existence'. North Korea has shut down nearly all cross-border traffic, banned tourists, intensified screening at entry points and mobilised tens of thousands of health workers to monitor residents and isolate those with symptoms. According to reports, it has also placed hundreds of foreigners in quarantine to prevent an outbreak. Experts say an epidemic in North Korea could be dire because of the country's chronic lack of medical supplies and poor healthcare infrastructure.
With businesses and companies either shutting down stores or cancelling their major events to contain the spread of the fatal virus, it has already reached more than 60 countries with Antarctica being the only continent left 'virus-free'. WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has also said that the officials “should not be too eager to declare a pandemic” in the absence of “clear-minded analysis of the facts”.