Kim Jong-un Has a Warning – and It's About the Coronavirus

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Posted: Jul 04, 2020 2:45 PM
Kim Jong-un Has a Warning – and It's About the Coronavirus

Source: Korea Summit Press Pool via AP. Pool, File

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un on Friday told his government officials to be on "maximum alert" when it comes to the Wuhan coronavirus. He warned the Workers' Party that relaxing coronavirus measures could lead to an "unimaginable and irretrievable crisis," state media reported Friday.

This was the second time in three months that the North Korean officials met to discuss the Wuhan coronavirus, a sign that the country is grappling with the virus. Based on Kim's comments and lack of discussion about external policies, it looks as though he is focused solely on North Korea.

"He stressed the need to maintain maximum alert without a slight self-complacence or relaxation on the anti-epidemic front, and rearrange and practice stricter anti-epidemic effort," the Korean Central News Agency said. "He repeatedly warned that hasty relief of anti-epidemic measures will result in unimaginable and irretrievable crisis, stressing that all the sectors and units should further strengthen the emergency anti-epidemic work till the danger of pandemic incoming is completely rid of."

North Korea has repeatedly said they have zero Wuhan coronavirus infections. They cite their swift preventative measures that started back in January, like closing the border. But actions, like the canceling of schools and placing people in quarantine, suggests the country has a number of coronavirus infections.

It was previously reported that roughly 40 percent of North Koreans are malnourished. That number has skyrocketed since the border closed due to a lack of trade with China. 

"In a context where the pandemic is bringing drastic economic hardship to DPRK [the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's formal name], I encourage the UN Security Council to reconsider sanctions, in light of the impact on the livelihoods of people and the government's capacity to respond," Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur, said.