N.K. paper urges tight antivirus efforts without expecting outside help

SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) — North Korea’s official newspaper said Thursday the country should intensify antivirus efforts on its own without any outside help that could increase the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

North Korea has recently intensified calls for tightened preventive measures against the coronavirus after leader Kim Jong-un held a politburo meeting of the Workers’ Party and stressed the need to “keep a high alert, build a tight blocking wall and further intensify the anti-epidemic work.”

“We are at a critical crossroads where we have to make a choice between whether we would kill our children by looking across the border for materials that we could live without or keep our kids alive by putting up with (the current situation),” the Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the ruling party, said.

“The situation is getting worse in many countries due to a second wave of the viciously infectious disease,” the paper added. “Without the spirit of safeguarding our country and fighting it, the fate of our country and our people will be at the mercy of the deadly demon of the illness.”

The paper called the current fight against COVID-19 “war without a gunfire,” urging its people not to let any smallest mistake undermine the ongoing antivirus campaign.

North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free, but it has maintained its tight border closure since earlier this year.

Photos recently released by state media showed North Korean people leaving every other seat empty at theaters in what appears to be part of tougher social distancing measures.

North Korea has emphasized “self-reliance” despite its prolonged fight against the coronavirus. In August, leader Kim rejected any outside help, saying it could increase the risk of a coronavirus outbreak.

This photo, released by the North's Korean Central News Agency on Aug. 29, 2020, shows a health worker sanitizing Pyongyang Station in the capital to prevent the outbreak of the coronavirus. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)