North Korean authorities have “secretly” appealed for international help with coronavirus testing even as officials have publicly insisted there are no confirmed cases of the virus inside the country, the Financial Times reports. Citing a relevant document and several people familiar with the matter, the FT reports that officials in Pyongyang have privately pleaded with their international contacts to help ramp up testing in recent weeks. “The government has testing kits for Covid-19 and they know how to use them, but [the number of kits are] not sufficient, hence, [officials are] requesting all organisations . . . to support them in this regard,” the FT quoted one source as saying. Another source said at least 590 people who returned to North Korea from overseas in January had been tested, and all had been negative. Experts say the country’s weak health-care system, food shortages, and international sanctions make it especially vulnerable to the pandemic.
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