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N. Korea's media mentions economic losses from ongoing fight against coronavirus

All News 11:25 March 10, 2020

SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is taking a series of strong anti-coronavirus measures even at the cost of "enormous economic losses" because ensuring the lives and safety of its people is the No. 1 priority, a state media outlet said Tuesday.

The report by Uriminzokkiri, a North Korean propaganda website, is believed to be the first time the country has mentioned economic losses from the viral disease. Pyongyang has not reported any confirmed coronavirus infections but the country has been intensifying quarantine efforts and border controls.

"It is not something that can be easily decided and implemented by anybody to take the ultra-strong preventive efforts to block the spread of COVID-19 and a resulting catastrophe while enduring even tremendous economic losses," Uriminzokkiri said.

"It is because there is no task more important than ensuring the lives and safety of people," it said.

North Korea has shuttered its borders with China and Russia and toughened its quarantine procedures, possibly disrupting flows of people and goods from outside. Such disruptions could aggravate an already frail economy under heavy strain from crippling international sanctions.

The North has called for efforts to build a self-reliant economy independent of outside support, but observers say these efforts could be undercut by a prolonged border closure with China, its largest trading partner.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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