Kim Jong Un says North Korea prevented coronavirus from making inroads

Elias Hubbard
July 3, 2020

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has praised what he described as his country's "shining success" in holding off the new coronavirus, according to state-run KCNA news agency on Friday (July 3).

Nevertheless, Kim presided over the extended Politburo meeting on Friday during which the party's top brass checked on how the government was dealing with the epidemic, and discussed bolstering "national emergency" disease prevention efforts, the Korean Central News Agency said.

"It has no choice but to keep its border closed with China, it is something inevitable for the North", said Hong Min, director of the North Korean division at the Korea Institute for National Unification.

Analysts say the North is unlikely to have avoided the contagion and that its ramshackle health system could struggle to cope with a major outbreak. He said the success in handling the virus was "achieved by the far-sighted leadership of the Party Central Committee".

At the meeting, Kim stressed the need "to maintain maximum alert without a slight self-complacence or relaxation on the anti-epidemic front, and rearrange and practice stricter anti-epidemic effort under the prevailing situation".

Kim repeatedly warned that hasty relief of anti-epidemic measures will result in unimaginable and irretrievable crisis, stressing that "all the sectors and units should further strengthen the emergency anti-epidemic work till the danger of pandemic incoming is completely rid of".

In late January, North Korea moved quickly against the virus - sealing off its borders and later quarantining hundreds of foreigners in the capital, Pyongyang.

North Korea has reopened schools but kept a ban on public gatherings and made it mandatory for people to wear masks in public places as part of its response to the coronavirus threat, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official said on Wednesday.

However, Oliver Hotham, managing editor of specialist news site NK News, told the BBC earlier this year that this was probably not true.

South Korea is now recording around 40 to 60 cases a day, while China saw a surge of infections in Beijing last month. [Especially with China], given the amount of cross border trade.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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