Page last updated at 10:18 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

North Korea accepts swine flu aid from South

Tamiflu - file image
South Korea is sending enough anti-virals to treat 500,000 people

North Korea has accepted an offer of medical aid from South Korea to combat an outbreak of swine flu, officials in Seoul said.

South Korea will send Tamiflu and other medicines, a spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry said.

Pyongyang said on Wednesday that nine people had the H1N1 virus, confirming earlier reports of an outbreak.

The aid would be the first from South Korea's government since President Lee Myung-bak took office in early 2008.

He has taken a tougher line with the North than previous governments and suspended most government aid when cross-border relations worsened last year.

Unconfirmed deaths

Earlier this week, President Lee offered unconditional aid to help North Korea with the outbreak.

Unification Minister Hyun In-taek said South Korea would provide enough Tamiflu and other anti-viral medicine to treat 500,000 people.

"We are hoping for the delivery to be made as soon as possible after agreeing on the terms of the delivery with North Korea," ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said.

North Korean state media has said the nine confirmed cases of swine flu were in Sinuiju, on the border with China, and in the capital Pyongyang.

The World Health Organisation said no deaths due to swine flu had been recorded in North Korea.

But a South Korean organisation that sends aid to the North said 50 people had died of swine flu since early November, Associated Press news agency reported.

In South Korea, officials say 117 people have died of swine flu but the spread of the virus has slowed.

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