North Korean leader berates officials over typhoon preparations

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends an emergency meeting to discuss disaster prevention efforts against Typhoon Lingling on Friday, September 6, 2019. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
Updated 07 September 2019

North Korean leader berates officials over typhoon preparations

  • Typhoon Lingling is expected to make landfall in the North on Saturday afternoon
  • Many in positions of authority were ill prepared, the North’s KCNA news service reported

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has berated officials for their “easygoing” attitude to the approach of Typhoon Lingling, state media reported.
The powerful storm is expected to make landfall in the North on Saturday afternoon after passing off the coast of South Korea, according to Seoul’s Korea Meteorological Association.
Kim convened an emergency meeting on Friday and said “dangerous circumstances” caused by the typhoon were “imminent,” but that many in positions of authority were ill prepared, the North’s KCNA news service reported later that day.
Officials in the North “remain unchanged in their attitude and helpless against the typhoon, unaware of its seriousness and seized with easygoing sentiment,” Kim said during the meeting, according to the KCNA report.
In South Korea, more than 270 flights were canceled and power outages in over 30,000 homes have been reported, while public parks and zoos were closed for the weekend after heavy rain and strong winds on Saturday.
Seoul’s weather authorities also warned of landslides and flooding, and advised the public to stay indoors.
Kim said efforts to minimize damage from the typhoon in North Korea would be an “enormous struggle,” adding that its army should “remain loyal to its sacred duty” of ensuring its citizens’ safety.
The impoverished and isolated North is vulnerable to natural disasters, especially floods, due in part to deforestation and poor infrastructure.
At least 138 North Koreans were known to have died after torrential rain triggered major floods in 2016, the United Nations said at the time.
More than 160 people were killed by a massive rainstorm in the summer of 2012.


China reports 1,886 new virus cases, death toll up by 98

A woman, wearing a protective facemask amid fears over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, walks in front of an advertisement board in Bangkok on February 17, 2020 featuring attractions in Thailand. (AFP)
Updated 57 min 23 sec ago

China reports 1,886 new virus cases, death toll up by 98

  • Hundreds more have been infected and the virus has sparked panic buying, economic jitters as well as the cancellation of high-profile sporting and cultural events

BEIJING: Mainland China reported 1,886 new virus cases and 98 more deaths for a total of 1,868 in its update Tuesday, following a report that 80% of cases have been mild, prompting guarded optimism from health officials.
The latest figures come after health officials in China published the first details on nearly 45,000 cases of infection with the coronavirus that originated there, saying more than 80% have been mild and new ones seem to be falling since early this month.
A total of 72,436 cases have been reported in mainland China as of Tuesday, although a spike in recent cases was due to a broader definition in the hardest-hit region based on doctors’ diagnoses before laboratory tests were completed.
Monday’s report from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention gives the World Health Organization a “clearer picture of the outbreak, how it’s developing and where it’s headed,” WHO’s director-general said at a news conference.
“It’s too early to tell if this reported decline will continue. Every scenario is still on the table,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
China may postpone its annual congress in March, its biggest political meeting of the year, to avoid travel while the disease is still spreading. The standing committee for the National People’s Congress will meet Feb. 24 to deliberate on a postponement of the meeting due to start March 5.
The new disease, called COVID-19, first emerged in December in Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei province, and has spread to more than two dozen other countries.
The new study reports on 44,672 cases confirmed in China as of Feb. 11. The virus caused severe symptoms such as pneumonia in 14% of them and critical illness in 5%.
The fatality rate for these confirmed cases is 2.3% — 2.8% for males versus 1.7% for females.
That’s lower than for SARS and MERS, which are caused by two similar viruses, but COVID-19 ultimately could prove more deadly if it spreads to far more people than the others did. Ordinary flu has a fatality rate of 0.1% yet kills hundreds of thousands because it infects millions each year.
The COVID-19 cases include relatively few children, and the risk of death rises with age. It’s higher among those with other health problems — more than 10% for those with heart disease, for example, and higher among those in Hubei province versus elsewhere in China.
Cases seem to have been declining since Feb. 1, but that could change as people return to work and school after the Chinese holidays, the report warns. Beijing has sought to forestall that by extending the Lunar New Year holiday, imposing tight travel restrictions and demanding 14 days off self-quarantine for anyone returning from outside their immediate region.
Hundreds of cases have been confirmed outside China, with a significant number on a cruise ship quarantined at a port near Tokyo.
Japanese officials on Monday confirmed 99 more people were infected on the Diamond Princess, bringing the total to 454. The Health Ministry said it has now tested 1,723 people on the ship, which had about 3,700 passengers and crew aboard. Outside China, the ship has the largest number of cases of COVID-19.
Japan has 518 confirmed cases, including the 454 from the cruise ship, and one death from the virus.
The US evacuated 328 American passengers, with most of them now in a 14-day quarantine at military bases in California and Texas. Fourteen of them have the virus and were taken to hospitals in California and Nebraska.
Any quarantined passengers who shows symptoms of the virus will be taken to a hospital off the base “for containment and specialized care,” according to a statement from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Scott Pauley. The CDC rather than the Department of Defense is responsible for all parts of the quarantine operation.