Daily US Times: North Korean lead Kim Jong-un has warned authorities to prepare for the dangers posed to the country by a looming typhoon and the coronavirus pandemic.
His appearance at a party meeting comes after widespread speculation over his health.
North Korea has not confirmed any coronavirus cases yet and it is thought that a large outbreak would have a devastating impact on the impoverished nation.
Meanwhile, Typhoon Bavi is expected to hit the country later this week.
According to state media report, while speaking at a meeting of the politburo on Tuesday, Mr Kim, who was smoking a cigarette, said there were “some shortcomings” in the state’s efforts to keep out the “malignant virus”. State media did not give any detail about the meeting.
Pyongyang for a long time insisted there were no infections in the country, though observers doubted the claim. No cases have been declared, but the country’s media have not repeated the claim for several weeks now.
There had been lockdown in one border city near South Korea after a suspected case, but the infection was never officially confirmed.
The appearance of Kim Jong-un came amid rumours about the condition of his health and that he had delegated some of his authority to his sister Kim Yo-jong.
Speculation about his health is not unusual but has so far always turned out to be false.
While the world’s tabloids obsess over the leader – who is clearly fine – there are bigger concerns that the state and its 25 million people are clearly not fine.
Typhoon Bavi could cause damage in North Korea which is already reeling from one of the longest monsoon seasons on record. Torrential rain in August brought widespread flooding.
According to BBC’s weather centre, storm surges of between 200-300mm of rain just weeks before the autumn rice harvest.
Ten million people are said to suffer from food insecurity in the isolated country, according the UN. That means they live from harvest to harvest and cannot afford more crops to be damaged.
The secretive state has also gone from insisting it had zero cases of Covid-19 to holding yet another high level meeting to discuss ways to mitigate the effects of the virus.
We still don’t know if outbreaks are under control in the country, which closed its borders to the world in January.
Mr Kim admitted just last week that his big economic plan, which was due to come to fruition in 2020, had failed and he was having to come up with a new one. A rare admission from a North Korean leader that he has come up short.