North Korea abruptly stops importing COVID containment products from China

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North Korea abruptly stopped importing COVID-19 prevention and control products from China in May, according to trade data released by Beijing, after the country bought face masks and ventilators from its neighbor in previous months.

New daily cases of fever in North Korea, as reported by its state news agency, KCNA, have been falling since the reclusive country first acknowledged in mid-May that it was battling a COVID-19 outbreak. However, how many of those cases tested positive for the coronavirus has yet to be revealed.

North Korea did not import face masks, thermometers, rubber gloves, ventilators or vaccines from China in May, according to data released Monday by China Customs.

This compares to imports of more than 10.6 million masks, nearly 95,000 thermometers and 1,000 non-invasive ventilators from China in January-April.

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South Korea and the United States have offered to provide aid, including vaccines, but Pyongyang has not responded.

In this undated photo handed out Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, by the North Korean government, North Korean Prime Minister Kim Jae Ryon, top right, has a meeting at the anti-epidemic emergency headquarters in Pyongyang, South Korea North.  Independent journalists were not allowed to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government.  The content of this image is as supplied and cannot be independently verified.  (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
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In this undated photo handed out Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, by the North Korean government, North Korean Prime Minister Kim Jae Ryon, top right, has a meeting at the anti-epidemic emergency headquarters in Pyongyang, South Korea North. Independent journalists were not allowed to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as supplied and cannot be independently verified. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
((Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP))

As Pyongyang has never directly confirmed the number of people testing positive for the virus, the World Health Organization said in June it assumed the situation was getting worse, not improving.

Overall, China’s exports to North Korea fell 85.2 percent to $14.51 million in May from $98.1 million in April.

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A worker repairs the floor of a container port in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, Wednesday, June 8, 2016. China's exports and imports contracted again in May, a sign of a weak global and domestic demand.  (Chinatopix Via AP)

A worker repairs the floor of a container port in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong Province, Wednesday, June 8, 2016. China’s exports and imports contracted again in May, a sign of a weak global and domestic demand. (Chinatopix Via AP)
(The Associated Press)

The main export products were soybeans, granulated sugar, soybean flour and wheat flour.

North Korea bought $2.97 million worth of soybeans, $2.64 million of granulated sugar, $1.49 million of soybean flour and $846,598 of wheat flour in May, the data shows. Chinese customs.

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BEIJING, CHINA - DECEMBER 20: Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian attends a press conference on December 20, 2021 in Beijing, China.

BEIJING, CHINA – DECEMBER 20: Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian attends a press conference on December 20, 2021 in Beijing, China.
((Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images))

China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on April 29 that China suspended cross-border freight train services with North Korea following consultations due to COVID-19 infections in its border city of Dandong.

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