UPDATE 1-N.Korea’s Kim orders tightening of anti-virus measures amid global pandemic -KCNA

SEOUL, Nov 16- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered a tightening of state emergency anti-coronavirus systems in the face of the worldwide pandemic, as he presided over a meeting of the politburo of the ruling Workers Party, state news agency KCNA said on Monday. North Korea had tested over 12,000 people and reported no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, as of…

By Sangmi Cha

SEOUL, Nov 16 (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Unordered a tightening of state emergency anti-coronavirus systemsin the face of the worldwide pandemic, as he presided over ameeting of the politburo of the ruling Workers Party, state newsagency KCNA said on Monday.

The meeting came amid economic and political uncertaintysurrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic that is puttingadditional pressure on the North’s economy, already battered byinternational sanctions aimed at stopping its nuclear program.

Making his first public appearance in 25 days, Kim stressedthe need to keep a high alert and intensify the anti-epidemicwork, KCNA reported.

The meeting discussed an unspecified “serious crime”committed by party officials at the Pyongyang University ofMedicine. Other officials at the Central Committee and othergovernment agencies “shielded, connived and fostered the crime”by failing to tighten oversight over the university, KCNA said,but did not specify if the crime was related to the coronavirus.

North Korea had tested over 12,000 people and reported noconfirmed cases of the coronavirus, as of early November,according to the World Health Organization.

A total of 6,173 people, eight of whom were foreigners, weredetected as suspected cases and 174 people were quarantined inthe last week of October, the WHO said.

More than 54 million people have been reported to beinfected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,312,334​ havedied, according to a Reuters tally.

Kim had called on his country to embark on an 80-daycampaign to attain its goals in every sector before a congressin January to decide a new five-year plan.

North Korea’s premier, Kim Tok Hun, visited a heavy machinecomplex and a notebook factory to the southeast of Pyongyang todiscuss efforts to reach those goals, KCNA reported on Monday.

“At the Taean Heavy Machine Complex, he gave pep-talks toits workers working hard to produce custom-built equipment aheadof schedule amid the intensive 80-day campaign,” KCNA reported.(Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Editing by Peter Cooney and DianeCraft)

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