March 4, 2020 / 9:57 AM / a month ago

'Never happier': Quarantine over for diplomats in North Korea

Swedish ambassador to North Korea Joachim Bergstrom poses for a selfie photo standing in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square, after being allowed to leave a month-long quarantine imposed on foreign diplomats over coronavirus fears, in Pyongyang, North Korea March 3, 2020, in this picture obtained from social media. JOACHIM BERGSTROM/via REUTERS

SEOUL (Reuters) - Relieved foreign diplomats in North Korea were finally getting out of their compounds this week after the end of a month-long quarantine over the coronavirus outbreak.

“I have never been happier standing on Kim Il Sung Square,” Sweden’s ambassador Joachim Bergstrom tweeted next to a photo of himself at the plaza in the capital Pyongyang.

Russia’s embassy confirmed diplomats and their families were allowed out from March 2 to visit a handful of approved locations, including several stores, after authorities had ordered them to stay in their buildings for a month.

They also had to obtain certificates from doctors to prove they were free of the coronavirus, the embassy said on Facebook.

Authoritarian North Korea has not confirmed any cases of the flu-like disease, which originated in neighboring China, but imposed a month of quarantine for anyone showing symptoms plus for many foreigners in the country.

“Thank God!” an Indonesian embassy employee wrote on Instagram next to a photo of his medical certificate.

North Korea’s state media says “high-intensity” measures are in place to prevent coronavirus infections, including reinforced border checks, and the suspension of most air and rail travel within and out of the country.

Earlier this week, Chinese state television said North Korea would soon charter a flight from Pyongyang to Russia’s Vladivostok for any foreigners wanting to leave.

Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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