In a nebulous and potentially ominous announcement, North Korea says it is putting hundreds of foreigners under quarantine in a bid to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

A coronavirus outbreak could be a disaster for a country with what is generally believed to be a very poor health care system.

The state-run Korean Central Broadcasting Station in Pyongyang said the government had "quarantined some 380 foreigners so far across the country, while intensifying isolation, medical monitoring, and testing measures on those who have returned from overseas travel, those who have contacted them, and those showing abnormal symptoms."

The identities and national origins of those being quarantined is now clear.  However, South Korean media says the announcement appears to impact embassy workers and international business representatives.  Sky News reported these diplomats, including those from the British Embassy,  were not allowed to leave their compounds or the countries.  The reclusive country had already doubled the quarantine period of people coming in from foreign countries to 30 days.

Officially, North Korea has not reported any cases of Covid-19 infection.  That claim is disputed by unofficial reports leaking out of North Korea, reports the blog 38North.