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NK leader warns against complacency in COVID-19 prevention

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (KCNA-Yonhap)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (KCNA-Yonhap)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un convened a Workers’ Party Politburo meeting on COVID-19 for the first time in three months, and called for strengthened efforts to contain the epidemic, the North’s state news agency said on Friday.

Pyongyang has claimed so far that there have been no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the country.

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.

The North initiated the national emergency disease prevention system on Jan. 24 when the COVID-19 situation got worse in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Kim stressed that his government “double-check and strengthen disease prevention work without getting lax as reinfection and reproliferation of the malignant epidemic continue around neighboring states and border areas,” according to the KCNA.

Criticizing that negligence is prevalent and violations of the emergency rules are taking place, Kim warned that “hasty easing of disease prevention measures would lead to an unimaginable, irrecoverable and fatal crisis,” the agency said.

Kim last held a Politburo meeting to discuss COVID-19 on April 11, during which they discussed accelerating the construction of a general hospital in Pyongyang and medical volunteer work.

The KCNA did not mention any issue in the country’s relations with South Korea, simply saying the Politburo “proceeded to review key issues related to the party’s external affairs.”

By Kim So-hyun (​