Supreme leader of North Korea blames health officials for COVID deaths in the country


North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a pharmacy in Pyongyang. Photo: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

Kim Jong Un chastised officials for delays in its pandemic response and mobilized the country's military to combat the widespread coronavirus outbreak, posing one of the most formidable challenges to his authority.

Pyongyang acknowledged last week, for the first time since the epidemic began sweeping the globe in early 2020, that Korea is facing an "explosive" spread of the virus, a worrying development for the largely uninfected nation.

The Central News Agency of North Korea said Monday that more than 1.2 million people have become ill with "fever," including 50 deaths since late April.

Experts remarked that North Korean officials appear to be using the term "fever" as a euphemism for Covid-19. They cannot presumably provide an accurate diagnosis due to a lack of test kits.

Due to a lack of medical resources, the country of 25 million people appears to be isolating an increasing number of sufferers.

The official media reported that more than 560,000 North Koreans with "fever" are in quarantine.

Since North Korea announced its first official Covid case last Thursday, Mr. Kim has urged officials to "absolutely curb the spread of the malicious virus." Still, his public health directives have not been carried out, he stated on Sunday.

Yesterday, the KCNA stated that he harshly criticized the government and public health sector for their reckless work attitude and organizational and execution skills.

Mr. Kim criticized the sluggish pace of pharmaceutical distribution to local pharmacies during Sunday's emergency Politburo meeting.

He also instructed the medical unit of the national army to help stabilize the medicine supply.

After the summit, Mr. Kim visited clinics in Pyongyang and bemoaned their "poor situation," which lacked even adequate storage for medications.

Over the past two and a half years, Pyongyang has maintained a "zero Covid" policy consisting of strict quarantine measures and a restricted border, which may have prevented a significant epidemic but led to health and food issues.

Experts from outside the nation have long questioned North Korea's claims that the country is devoid of coronavirus.

A few weeks before disclosing its first official case, North Korea hosted a major military parade in Pyongyang that drew a crowd of approximately 20,000 individuals. According to analysts, this event may have been a super spreader event.

North Korea has already rejected offers of millions of vaccine doses from the Covax distribution program of the United Nations, presumably due to concerns regarding the entry of monitoring staff.

The Unification Ministry of South Korea said yesterday that North Korea has not yet reacted to South Korea's offer of coronavirus help.

The ministry stated that Seoul is willing to offer the North supplies such as vaccines, medications, face masks, diagnostic kits, and share pandemic response best practices.

Oh Myoung-don, an expert in infectious diseases at Seoul National University, stated that the coronavirus pandemic in North Korea began a month ago and that a vaccine rollout may be too late to stop it.

Publish : 2022-05-17 08:16:00

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