Ambassador Colin Crooks tweeted, “The British Embassy in Pyongyang temporarily closed on May 27, 2020, and all diplomatic personnel have left the DPRK for the time being. “
A foreign ministry spokesman said the decision was made because “restrictions on entry have made it impossible to rotate our staff and operate the embassy.”
North Korea insists that there were no cases of coronavirus during the global pandemic – an assertion rejected by many observers and defectors from Pyongyang.
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The United Kingdom has diplomatic relations with North Korea and will seek to re-establish a presence in Pyongyang as soon as possible, the Foreign Office added in its statement.
Citing anonymous sources, Seoul-based NK News, which monitors North Korea, reported that British diplomats had crossed the border by land into China, with flights pending.
The British Embassy flag was down and a convoy of vehicles was seen leaving the complex as diplomats and their families departed, the Russian news agency Tass reported.
Upon departure, an unnamed staff member said the British were taken to the border town of Dandong, China, where they would be quarantined for two weeks before being allowed to return to London, Tass reported.
As part of strict measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, North Korea has banned almost all cross-border travel and forced foreigners to spend weeks in quarantine.
In March, several countries, including Germany and France, withdrew their representatives from North Korea and closed their missions there.
Hundreds of foreigners remain in the country.
Sweden’s ambassador to North Korea, Joachim Bergstrom, is among the foreign diplomats who stayed in Pyongyang, tweeting on Thursday that “a new working day is starting” in the city.
Other foreigners who remain in the country include staff from the Russian Embassy and aid workers.
North Korea insisted it has had no cases of coronavirus as the world faces a pandemic that infected more than 5.6 million people and killed more than 355,000 people on Thursday morning .
However, North Korean observers and defectors have questioned Pyongyang’s claims.
Unverified reports have claimed that Kim Jong-un left the capital for his seaside refuge to avoid Covid-19 after people close to him got the life-threatening disease.
There was another unverified claim that the country’s first patient Covid-19 was executed and hundreds of soldiers stationed near China, where the epidemic began late last year, had caught the virus.
Another report said that North Korean authorities told citizens at public conferences that there were confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country as early as the end of March, and one of them alleged that hundreds of people had died.
China is also said to have sent around 50 medical experts to neighboring North Korea to support its Covid-19 containment measures.