SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told a meeting of the politburo of the ruling Workers Party the North had stopped the novel coronavirus from making inroads in the country, state news agency KCNA said on Friday.
“We have thoroughly prevented the inroad of the malignant virus and maintained a stable anti-epidemic situation despite the worldwide health crisis, which is a shining success achieved,” Kim Jong Un said in a statement carried by KCNA.
He warned against self-complacency or relaxation in the anti-epidemic effort and urged North Koreans to maintain “maximum alert”, KCNA said in a statement.
The politburo meeting on Thursday comes as many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns, even as the world moves quickly past the grim milestones of 10 million confirmed infections and 500,000 deaths.
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 Organization (WHO) official said on Wednesday.
While the reclusive country has not confirmed any infections, its public health ministry has reported all 922 people checked so far have tested negative. Hundreds of people, mostly cargo handlers at seaports and land borders, are regularly quarantined for monitoring.
Thursday's politburo meeting also touched on construction of the Pyongyang General Hospital, underway in the capital. Kim expressed satisfaction with the project and thanked the builders for making headway under unfavorable conditions.
“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.
(Reporting by Sangmi Cha and Josh Smith; Editing by Leslie Adler and Tom Brown)