North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for prevention efforts against the novel coronavirus and a typhoon, according to a media report on Wednesday.
The meeting assessed “some defects in the state emergency anti-epidemic work for checking the inroads of the malignant virus”, state news agency KCNA said in a statement.
North Korea has not reported any confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus so far, but Kim had said last month that the virus “could be said to have entered” the country and imposed a lockdown after a man was reported to have symptoms.
Kim had this month lifted a three-week lockdown in the city of Kaesong after a suspected case of the coronavirus there.
The meeting discussed state emergency measures on preventing crop damage and casualties from Typhoon Bavi, which is expected to hit the country within days, KCNA reported.
Kim Jong-un had earlier called for “maximum alert” against the coronavirus pandemic, during a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party, and warned that premature easing of anti-virus measures will lead to “unimaginable and irretrievable crisis”.
Kim also made “sharp criticism of inattention, onlooking and chronic attitude getting prevalent among officials, and violation of the rules of the emergency anti-epidemic work as this work takes on a protracted character”.
North Korea earlier had claimed to have no coronavirus infections, but it has taken relatively swift counter measures since January, such as closing its border and toughening quarantine criteria.
Earlier this month, Kim visited a flood-damaged village in North Hwanghae Province after recent heavy rains left more than 900 homes inundated or destroyed there.
Kim’s visit marks the second of its kind since he became leader in 2011, following the inspection of North Hamgyong province that was hit by a flood in 2015.
The North Korean leader’s visit and his decision to open up his grain reserves for the flood victims appear intended to allay public grievances, as the impoverished country has struggled to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in the North for over six months in an economy already faltering under international sanctions, according to the report.
North Korea is vulnerable to natural disasters due to its lack of infrastructure, with heavy rains, in particular, leaving thousands of people displaced in the impoverished country.