North Korea’s Kim calls for preventing natural disasters and COVID-19 outbreaks

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un urged efforts to prevent natural disasters or coronavirus outbreaks from damaging the economy as he convened a meeting of the ruling party’s politburo, state media reported on Friday.

Economic plans dominated the agenda at the meeting held in Pyongyang on Thursday, KCNA news agency reported.

The country’s economy has been battered by international sanctions and self-imposed border and movement lockdowns aimed at preventing a coronavirus outbreak. Seasonal heavy rains and typhoons have raised further concerns about damage to food supplies.

“(Kim) underlined the need to take thorough-going measures to overcome abnormal climate the danger of which has become higher in recent years,” KCNA said.

Among the work Kim called for were river improvement, reforestation for erosion control, dyke maintenance and tide embankment projects.

North Korea has not confirmed any COVID-19 cases, but closed borders and imposed strict prevention measures, seeing the pandemic as a matter of national survival.

“The present dangerous situation of the worldwide pandemic which keeps spiralling out of control demands tighter nationwide epidemic prevention,” Kim said, according to KCNA. “Tightening epidemic prevention is the task of paramount importance which must not be loosened even a moment under the present situation.”

According to international officials, North Korea has turned down shipments of China’s Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccine, as well as doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

Photo: Kim Jong-Un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and supreme Commander of the armed forces of the DPRK . EPA-EFE/KCNA