DPRK leader hails 'shining success' against COVID-19: KCNA

Clay Curtis
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).

Despite the warning, Kim reaffirmed North Korea's claim to not have had a single case of COVID-19, telling a ruling party meeting Thursday that the country has "thoroughly prevented the inroad of the malignant virus" despite the worldwide health crisis.

North Korea closed its borders in late January as the virus spread in neighbouring China, imposing tough restrictions that put thousands of its people into isolation.

Thursday's politburo meeting on the pandemic was the second in three months, suggesting that the COVID-19 situation in the North could be more serious than Pyongyang's claim that it remains virus-free.

"Kim Jong Un made sure powerful national measures were taken for urgently solving the problems arising to brilliantly complete the hospital which would provide the people with the most advanced medical service, to be of the world standard", KCNA said.

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Outsiders widely doubt North Korea escaped the pandemic entirely, given its poor health infrastructure and close trade and travel ties to China, where the coronavirus emerged late previous year.

The comments indicate North Korea will maintain its self-imposed blockade, which has also hit trade with China, its key backer and aid provider.

The South Korean presidential office has already conveyed Moon's idea to the White House in their "close communication" especially following the North's demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office in its border city of Kaesong last month, Yonhap News Agency quoted the official as saying.

The nation must nevertheless "remain on maximum alert", in particular in view of the new outbreaks appeared in "neighboring countries", he warned.

Experts say the country's self-imposed lockdown is hurting an economy already battered by stringent US -led sanctions over its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

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