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NK urges vigilance against COVID-19 variant

Health officials disinfect a subway station in Pyongyang in this photo from Rodong Sinmun on Aug. 1, 2020. (Rodong Sinmun-Yonhap)
Health officials disinfect a subway station in Pyongyang in this photo from Rodong Sinmun on Aug. 1, 2020. (Rodong Sinmun-Yonhap)

North Korea’s main newspaper on Tuesday urged vigilance against the new COVID-19 variant, as a more contagious strain of the coronavirus spreads around the world, including in South Korea.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Workers’ Party, said the coronavirus is spreading at a faster pace and the global public health situation continues to worsen. The emergence of a new strain of the virus with a much higher transmission rate, which has been detected in several countries around the world, is more problematic, it said.

“The risk of transmission has increased, which demands intensified antivirus work,” the report said. “We should not let our guard down at any moment.”

The report comes as South Korea on Monday confirmed its first three cases of the new variant of COVID-19 from people who entered the country last week from the UK, where the strain was first reported. British analysts said the variant may be 70 percent more contagious than the original.

Since early this year North Korea has taken all-out measures to stave off a COVID-19 outbreak, closing down its border and trade, although the country continues to claim zero infections. 

The reclusive regime imposed the highest level of emergency measures this month, including suspending the operation of some public facilities, tightening regulation of sea entry and restricting the movement of people in the capital, as it prepares to hold a massive ruling Workers’ Party congress next month.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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