North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned against the “hasty” relaxation of anti-coronavirus measures, state media reported on Friday, indicating the country would keep its borders closed for the foreseeable future.
North Korea in late January closed its borders as the virus spread in neighboring China, and imposed tough restrictions that put thousands of its people into isolation.
Pyongyang insists it has not had a single case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus that has swept the world infecting more than 10.8 million people and killing more than 500,000.
Photo: AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS
Analysts have said that North Korea is unlikely to have avoided the contagion and that its weak health system could struggle to cope with a major outbreak.
Kim on Thursday told a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party that its efforts had been a “shining success,” the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
“We have thoroughly prevented the inroad of the malignant virus,” it cited him as saying, “despite the worldwide health crisis.”
Kim cautioned against any “self-complacence or relaxation,” calling for stricter anti-epidemic efforts while “reinfection and re-expansion of the malignant contagious disease persists in neighboring countries.”
South Korea is recording around 40 to 60 cases a day, while China last month saw a surge of infections in Beijing.
At the meeting, Kim “repeatedly warned that hasty relief of anti-epidemic measures will result in unimaginable and irretrievable crisis,” KCNA added.
The comments indicate that North Korea would maintain its self-imposed blockade, which has also hit trade with China, its key backer and aid provider.
Several embassies in Pyongyang have temporarily closed, as they have been unable to bring in supplies, money and staff.
Under the measures, any arrivals must spend 30 days in strict quarantine, and diplomats and analysts believe the border could remain closed for the rest of the year.
“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.
“Its border closure with China may harm its economy, but the Pyongyang leadership seems to have determined preventing a coronavirus outbreak is more important in keeping control of the country,” Hong said.
More than 40 percent of North Korea’s 25 million people are considered food insecure.
A UN expert last month warned that the problem was worsening as a result of the country’s attempts to ward off an outbreak.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies