INTERNATIONAL NEWS - North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has praised what he described as his country's "shining success" in holding off the new coronavirus, according to state-run KCNA news agency Friday.
The head of the hermetic totalitarian state spoke at a Worker's Party politburo meeting on Thursday discussing the impact of the virus, six months after North Korea closed borders and put thousands in to isolation.
KCNA reported that after reviewing efforts, Kim "said we have thoroughly prevented the inroad of the malignant virus" and "maintained stable anti-epidemic situation despite the worldwide health crisis".
The reclusive leader praised the "shining success achieved by the far-sighted leadership of the Party Central Committee and a high sense of voluntary spirit displayed by all people who move as one on orders of the Party Central Committee," KCNA continued.
But he also stressed the need to "maintain maximum alert" especially in light of new outbreaks in "neighbouring countries".
"He repeatedly warned that hasty relief of anti-epidemic measures will result in unimaginable and irretrievable crisis," KCNA said.
Pyongyang has not confirmed a single case of the deadly disease that swept the world after first emerging in neighbouring China, but has imposed strict rules, including closing its borders and schools, and putting thousands of its people into isolation.
Analysts say the North is unlikely to have avoided infections from the virus, and that its ramshackle health system could struggle to cope with a major outbreak.
Last month a United Nations rights expert warned food insecurity is deepening and some people are "starving" as a result of North Korea's attempts to ward off any outbreak, particularly closing borders.
Before the coronavirus crisis, more than 40 percent of people in North Korea were already considered food insecure, with many suffering malnutrition.
Touching almost every country on earth, COVID-19 has infected at least 10.7 million people and claimed some 516,000 lives as it upends ordinary and economic life in unprecedented ways.
It continues to accelerated around the world, including in the United States.