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N.K. paper emphasizes antivirus efforts as party congress is under way

North Korea 09:04 January 08, 2021

SEOUL, Jan. 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official newspaper on Friday urged the people to keep their guard up against the coronavirus pandemic as a rare party congress is under way in Pyongyang with thousands of delegates gathering to join the largest political event.

The eighth congress of the ruling Workers' Party, the first of its kind in nearly five years, has been held since Tuesday to determine the country's policy directions for the economy and foreign affairs. Pyongyang had been placed on the highest alert against the coronavirus ahead of its opening.

"Emergency antivirus work is an important revolutionary task even this new year that all have to carry out in their posts and workplaces first than anything else," the Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the party, said. "What should be continuously heightened is the antivirus mindset of all people until the public health crisis is over."

"The most trustworthy weapon is to maintain the super high level of alert and antivirus mindset without complacency and laxity," the paper added.

North Korea claims to have been coronavirus-free, but it has taken relatively swift and drastic antivirus measures since early last year, including sealing its borders and imposing strict restrictions on movement.

The North has called for a stepped-up antivirus campaign amid concerns over the spread of the virus, as thousands of people would attend the party congress that is currently under way.

Despite Pyongyang's repeated emphasis on preventive measures against COVID-19, photos and footage showed delegates participating in the party congress sitting in close proximity without wearing face masks.

North Korean military officers take notes on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's words during the second day of the eighth congress of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang on Jan. 6, 2021, in this photo captured from the North's Korean Central Television the next day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korean military officers take notes on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's words during the second day of the eighth congress of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang on Jan. 6, 2021, in this photo captured from the North's Korean Central Television the next day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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