July 10 (UPI) -- North Korea is placing greater focus on disease prevention, describing efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic as more important than economic development.
Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said Friday "prevention is more important than the economy" and that the most important task for the ruling party is to "safeguard people's lives."
The statement comes after Kim Jong Un praised his country's "shining success" in response to COVID-19. North Korea has claimed there have been zero cases of the disease since January, but state media has also said hundreds of people were quarantined for symptoms.
"Our party's demand is that we do our best in the project of pandemic prevention, more than any other achievements in economic construction," the Rodong said.
The newspaper said the country built a "strong and secure disease prevention system" in the past six months.
On COVID-19, the paper warned the virus spreads "very quickly, across borders, the air, on the ground and by sea."
State media also called on North Koreans to make more sacrifices.
North Korean government newspaper Minju Choson said state workers should "struggle to improve the people's lives," and vow to "run and run again" to resolve the problems facing North Koreans, even if it means "shaving their bones," or giving up their lives to hard work.
North Korea is advising caution against the coronavirus as the leadership continues to turn down talks with the United States.
According to KCNA, Kim said, "as long as [the United States] does not hurt us, everything will go by uneventfully."
Kim also suggested North Korea has no plans to engage in provocations, such as the launch of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, before the 2020 U.S. presidential election in November.