With the exponential rise in coronavirus cases across the world, and many cases of spread re-occurring in areas where COVID-19 was otherwise believed to be ‘managed’, growing concerns arise among leading officials of numerous countries. The President of North Korea, may be considered most cautious out of all world leaders, taking no chances against a potential spread of COVID-19 in his country.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un warned against the “hasty” relaxation of anti-coronavirus measures, state media reported Friday, indicating the country will keep its borders closed for the foreseeable future. The nuclear-armed North closed its borders in late January as the virus spread in neighbouring China and imposed tough restrictions that put thousands of its people into isolation.
North Korea claims to be free of COVID-19
Describing its anti-virus efforts as a “matter of national existence,” North Korea earlier this year shut down nearly all cross-border traffic, banned tourists and mobilized health workers to quarantine anyone with similar symptoms to the disease.
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 over 500,000.
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.
Coronavirus: nearly 200 North Korea soldiers ‘die from outbreak government refuses to acknowledge’ https://t.co/nQqm7evhvw
— South China Morning Post (@SCMPNews) March 10, 2020
But Kim told a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party on Thursday that its efforts had been a “shining success”, the official KCNA news agency 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 “re-infection and re-expansion of the malignant contagious disease persists in neighbouring countries”.
Kim Jong Un’s response to COVID-19 in neighbouring countries
South Korea is currently recording around 40 to 60 cases a day, while China saw a surge of infections in Beijing last month.
At the meeting Kim “repeatedly warned that hasty relief of anti-epidemic measures will result in unimaginable and irretrievable crisis”, KCNA added.
North Korea's Covid-19 response has been a 'shining success', Kim Jong Un claimshttps://t.co/4JZ1AtvLzk
— Paula Hancocks (@PHancocksCNN) July 3, 2020
The comments by Kim Jong Un indicate North Korea will 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 current rules, 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.
North Korea deems preventing outbreak of COVID-19 most important
“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.”
More than 40 percent of North Korea’s 25 million people are considered food insecure.
Last month a United Nations rights expert warned food insecurity is deepening and some people are “starving” as a result of North Korea’s attempts to ward off any outbreak, particularly closing borders. Before the coronavirus crisis, more than 40 percent of people in North Korea were already considered food insecure, with many suffering malnutrition, nobody knows to which extent this number may have gone up following the accelerated spread of coronavirus cases around the globe.
Touching almost every country on earth, COVID-19 has infected at least 10.7 million people and claimed some 516,000 lives as it upends ordinary and economic life in unprecedented ways.
The effects of the novel coronavirus can be seen echoing throughout the post-modern world with many countries like Italy turning into a country-wide graveyard, and others like Pakistan giving preference to economic goals over concerns of a growing pandemic, fearing much more for its poor hungry people and dying economy. Neither can be deemed correct or wrong, and only time will reveal the lapses in judgement made by the officials in each country, respectively.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk
According to North Korea’s claims, will it manage to effectively stay free of COVID-19? Share your view with us in the comments bar below.