North Korea’s Kim Jong Un inspects flood relief

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un inspects flood relief
Kim Jong Un attends the fourth meeting of the Executive Policy Council of the Seventh Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea in Pyongyang on August 5, 2020. (KCNA via Reuters)
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Updated 07 August 2020

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un inspects flood relief

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un inspects flood relief
  • Heavy rain across the Korean peninsula has brought flooding to both North and South Korea in recent days
  • Rain during the harvest season in the rice-growing area is raising concern about North Korea’s food security

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered officials to provide food and shelter for hundreds of families who lost their homes in floods, the KCNA state news agency reported on Friday.
Heavy rain across the Korean peninsula has brought flooding to both North and South Korea in recent days, and concern is growing about damage to North Korean crops and its potential impact on food supplies.
“It is of priority importance to quickly supply sleeping materials, daily commodities, medicines and other necessities to the flood-affected people to stabilize their living,” Kim said in comments carried by KCNA.
Kim made the remarks while inspecting a flood-hit part of North Hwanghae Province, on the border of South Korea, as he “clarified tasks” for recovery work with officials there.
Torrential rain for several days has inundated more than 730 single-story houses, destroying 179 of them, and flooded rice-growing land, KCNA said.
There were no reports of casualties.
State television footage showed Kim visiting rural areas where a flooded river devastated farmlands and the roofs of some houses had collapsed.
Kim would also mobilize the army for rehabilitation, in particular work on homes and roads, and he called on architects to build 800 model houses in a badly hit farming village in Unpha County, KCNA said.
The rain during the harvest season in the rice-growing area is raising concern about North Korea’s food security.
North Korea’s ruling party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, cited a study that said rice and corn would suffer if the crops were under water for just two or three days.
“The fate of this year’s farming depends on how to protect farmland and crops from the flood,” the newspaper said.
South Korea on Thursday donated $10 million to the UN World Food Programme for its efforts to help North Korean children and women.
Parts of South Korea have seen more than 40 consecutive days of rain, the longest monsoon since 2013, and more is expected across the peninsula.
President Moon Jae-in on Friday designated seven hardest hit cities and counties as special disaster zones, which allows the areas to get more government aid.


UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
Updated 23 January 2021

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
  • PM Boris Johnson had previously said evidence showed higher mortality rate 
  • Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant carries with it a higher mortality rate

LONDON: The discovery of a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant in the UK should not alter the response to the pandemic, scientists say, despite fears that it could prove more deadly.
Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant, thought to be up to 70 percent more transmissible, carries with it a higher mortality rate.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed there was “some evidence” the variant had “a higher degree of mortality” at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 22, with the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, adding it could be up to 30 percent more deadly. 
That came after a briefing by the UK government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) said there was a “realistic possibility” of an increased risk of death.
Prof. Peter Horby, Nervtag’s chairman, said: “Scientists are looking at the possibility that there is increased severity ... and after a week of looking at the data we came to the conclusion that it was a realistic possibility.
“We need to be transparent about that. If we were not telling people about this we would be accused of covering it up.”
But infectious disease modeller Prof. Graham Medley, one of the authors of the Nervtag briefing, told the BBC: “The question about whether it is more dangerous in terms of mortality I think is still open.
He added: “In terms of making the situation worse it is not a game changer. It is a very bad thing that is slightly worse.”
Dr. Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling for the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said he was “quite surprised” Johnson had made the claim.
“I just worry that where we report things pre-emptively where the data are not really particularly strong,” he added.