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N.K. paper urges high-level alertness, tight border control against pandemic

All News 08:58 April 17, 2020

SEOUL, April 17 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official newspaper Friday called for high-level alertness and tight border control to ward off the new coronavirus as the communist state is bracing for a long fight against the global pandemic.

Last week, North Korea held a politburo meeting presided over by leader Kim Jong-un and adopted a resolution, calling for "strict national countermeasures to thoroughly check the infiltration of the virus" amid little prospect for the danger to disappear in a short time.

"Nothing is more precious than the safety of people's lives," the Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the country's ruling party, said. "That is a major reason why national countermeasures against the global pandemic was discussed first during the politburo meeting and revolutionary steps of adjusting some strongly sought-after policies had been taken.

"The global damage caused by the new coronavirus has intensified, rather than weakened," it added. "More efforts should be made in carrying out national emergency preventive campaign until the infectious disease is brought under complete control and prevented from spreading."

The paper called for "preemptive" and "immediate" measures against any possibility that the virus could enter the country, while maintaining a tight control on its land, sea and air borders in a precautionary step.

North Korea claims to have no coronavirus infection, but skepticism still persists that the North might be hushing up an outbreak given that its apparent lack of capability of identifying and treating such an infectious disease and its proximity to China and South Korea, where a large number of infections have been reported.

Pyongyang has taken various drastic measures at a relatively early date to stem the inflow of COVID-19 by closing its border with China and toughened quarantine criteria.

The North has recently ramped up calls for "absolute obedience" of state antivirus guidelines and urged them not to let their guard down, saying it would keep its current emergency disease control system in place until the viral disease is globally eradicated.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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