The United States released a statement Thursday offering to help USA and global organizations in North Korea contain the spread of the virus.
While reports on North Korea in late December suggested that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) had increased activity at a number of facilities associated with the country's ballistic missile program, the presence of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, was being identified at the same time.
"North Korea is likely to hold celebrations at a scale similar to previous years after taking various situations into consideration", Cho Hey-sil, the ministry's deputy spokesperson, said in a regular press briefing.
"The United States is ready and prepared to expeditiously facilitate the approval of assistance from these organizations".
Aid groups traveling to North Korea seek exemptions from sweeping U.S. and United Nations sanctions, which were imposed over the authoritarian state's nuclear and missile work.
But there may yet be hope for the reportedly executed trade official, as news of officials being executed or punished in North Korea has been wrong in the past.
Already one of the most closed-off countries in the world, North Korea has stopped airline flights and train service with its neighbours, established weeks-long mandatory quarantines for recently arrived foreigners, suspended global tourism, and imposed a near-complete lockdown on cross-border travel.
Some South Korean media outlets have reported multiple cases and possible deaths from the virus in North Korea, but World Health Organization officials based in Pyongyang told Voice of America that they have not been notified of any confirmed cases.
North Korea has entirely banned foreign tour groups, which come largely from China, according to a major tour operator.
We assess that cryptocurrencies are a valuable tool for North Korea as an independent, loosely regulated source of revenue generation, but also as a means for moving and using illicitly obtained funds.