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North Korea highlights antivirus effort in 80-day campaign

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (center) inspects flood relief in Kangwon Province, Oct. 2, 2020. (Yonhap)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (center) inspects flood relief in Kangwon Province, Oct. 2, 2020. (Yonhap)
North Korea said Monday staying vigilant against the coronavirus outbreak is a top priority in its 80-day campaign aimed to jump-start its faltering economy.

“We must hold ourselves responsible for and commit ourselves to finding where we stand most vulnerable to infection and come up with responding measures,” the official state newspaper said in a commentary, urging the party members as well to join the effort.

The isolated country claims it has yet to report an infection, though experts discredit the assertion. The regime has received test kits and medical supplies from international aid groups, including the World Health Organization.

Pyongyang was also provided with relief goods as this year’s floods worsened its perennial food shortages.

The commentary was seen as evidence that the communist country was struggling to contain the outbreak at a time when leader Kim Jong-un was anxious to see some economic progress ahead of a party congress in January next year, where Kim has promised to reveal a five-year economic plan.

Shortly before the founding anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party on Oct. 10, Pyongyang touted its economic achievements. But the message was largely understood to rally the public and ease potential frustration with the outbreak and flood damages.

North Korea often employs campaigns calling on its people to dedicate themselves to attaining state-driven economic goals so as to keep them preoccupied.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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