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Live Covid-19 Updates - The New York Times

In 2016, when Mr. Kim adopted his economic plan, the North’s economy grew 3.9 percent, the highest since a devastating famine hit the country in the late 1990s, according to estimates by South Korea’s central bank, the Bank of Korea.

But as the United Nations tightened sanctions, the North’s economy shrank 4.1 percent in 2018, with its exports to China plummeting 86 percent.

North Korea’s economy recovered slightly last year, growing 0.4 percent, as Pyongyang invented ways of easing the pain of the sanctions, such as smuggling banned cargo across the Chinese border or between ships on the high seas.

But this year, the coronavirus forced the country to shut down the border with China, which had accounted for more than 90 percent of the North’s external trade. North Korea’s exports to China fell to $27 million in the first half of this year, a 75 percent drop from a year earlier, according to the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul. Imports from China dropped 67 percent, to $380 million.

In other developments around the world:

  • A large virus outbreak in South Korea linked to a church is spreading through Seoul and beyond, threatening the country’s success in fighting the pandemic. The Sarang Jeil Church attracts politically active conservatives who oppose the country’s liberal president, Moon Jae-in. Mr. Moon has accused his most vocal critics of spreading the infectious disease and putting the entire nation in danger; conservative activists, in turn, have accused him of trying to scapegoat the church to divert attention from his weak approval ratings.

  • Health officials in China issued new guidelines on Thursday that exempt residents of Beijing, the capital, from wearing masks outdoors unless they come into close contact with strangers. The country has reported fewer than 300 infections over the past week, according to a New York Times database.

  • India’s coronavirus crisis is now spreading to the hinterlands along its southern coastline. The country recorded at least 69,000 new cases on Wednesday, its largest daily caseload of the pandemic, and nearly a thousand deaths, according to a New York Times database and the ministry of health. The South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu now account for nearly a third of new cases in the country.

  • In a tweet, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, weighed in on images of a recent pool party in Wuhan — the city where the pandemic began — that have touched a nerve in countries where many people remain under lockdown. “The city only emerges stronger,” she wrote. Global Times, a popular state-run tabloid, also said that international criticism of the party amounted to “foreign sour grapes.”

Reporting was contributed by Sarah Almukhtar, Peter Baker, Alan Blinder, Choe Sang-Hun, Emily Cochrane, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Julia Echikson, Nicholas Fandos, Richard Fausset, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Robert Gebeloff, Astead W. Herndon, Jan Hoffman, Sheila Kaplan, Josh Katz, Gina Kolata, Hari Kumar, Danielle Ivory, Lisa Lerer, Dan Levin, Denise Lu, Tiffany May, Patricia Mazzei, Zachary Montague, Claire Moses, Elisabetta Povoledo, Frances Robles, Simon Romero, Margot Sanger-Katz, Julie Satow, Nelson D. Schwartz, Karan Deep Singh, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jonathan Wolfe and Lauren Wolfe.

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