Wednesday, September 28, 2022

North Korea reports surge in COVID deaths, Kim Jong Un slams slow response

North Korea says it has experienced an explosive surge in COVID cases and deaths​ over the past several days, with dictator Kim Jong Un blasting officials for a slow response to the outbreak and ordering the military to take over the distribution of pandemic medicine in the capital.

Health officials in the Hermit Kingdom said Monday that eight more people had died and nearly 400,000 were found to have coronavirus symptoms – up from the six dead and 350,000 reported infected last Friday, when North Korea said an unspecified number of people in Pyongyang had tested positive for the omicron variant.

At an politburo meeting on Sunday, Kim said the increase in cases was causing “great upheaval” in the country and issued an emergency order to the “powerful forces” of the military to stabilize the treatment supply in Pyongyang and to keep pharmacies open 24 hours a day, according to North Korean propaganda outlets.​

But some experts fear that the true scale of the outbreak is much larger than what state-run media is reporting due to North Korea’s lack of vaccine supply, test kits and medicine.

“When people die, North Korean authorities will say they’ve died of overwork or from natural deaths, not because of COVID-19,”​—Nam Sung-wook, a professor at Korea University in Seoul, told the Associated Press​ .

  Kim Jong-un
Kim Jong-un (C) wearing a face mask while inspecting a pharmacy in Pyongyang, North Korea.
EPA/KCNA
Kim Jong Un (R), General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, presiding over a conference of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea
South Korea and China have said they would send vaccines, medical personnel and supplies to North Korea if the regime is willing to accept them.
EPA/KCNA
A schoolgirl wearing face mask, disinfects her hands before entering the Kumsong Secondary School No.  2
Experts fear that the true scale of the outbreak is much larger than what state-run media is reporting due to North Korea’s lack of vaccine supply, test kits and medicine.
Associated Press Photo/Cha Song Ho, File
Kim Jong Un
North Korea previously rejected an offer of millions of vaccine doses from the UN-backed COVAX distribution system.
KCNA via REUTERS

Nam added that it’s likely that North Korea is downplaying the number of deaths to protect what he called “the dignity of its supreme leader.”

South Korea and China have said they would send vaccines, medical personnel and supplies to North Korea if the regime is willing to accept them.

North Korea previously rejected an offer of millions of vaccine doses from the UN-backed COVAX distribution system, with Kim claiming measures the country had previously placed it COVID-free.

A teacher takes the body temperature of a schoolgirl
North Korea is believed to be responding to the dramatic rise in cases by isolating people with symptoms at shelters.
Associated Press Photo/Cha Song Ho, File
An employee of the Kyonghung Foodstuff General Store disinfects the showroom countertops
An employee of the Kyonghung Foodstuff General Store disinfects the showroom countertops in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Associated Press Photo/Cha Song Ho, File
An employee of the Kyonghung Foodstuff General Store disinfects the showroom in Pyongyang, North Korea
Health officials in the Hermit Kingdom said Monday that eight more people had died and nearly 400,000 were found to have coronavirus symptoms.
Associated Press Photo/Jon Chol Jin, File
anti-epidemic official' checks the body heat of a traveler aboard a bus
A ‘hygienic and anti-epidemic official’ checks the body heat of a traveler aboard a bus as part of preventative measures against COVID-19.
KIM WON JIN/AFP via Getty Images
A parade of 'paramilitary and public security forces' to celebrate the 73rd founding anniversary of North Korea at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyeongyang.
A parade of ‘paramilitary and public security forces’ to celebrate the 73rd founding anniversary of North Korea at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyeongyang.
STRINGER/KCNA VIA KNS/AFP via Getty Images

But experts say it might be too late to inoculate North Korea’s 26 million people, suggesting that efforts be focused on trying to protect the country’s most vulnerable citizens – namely, the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.

So far, North Korea is believed to be responding to the dramatic rise in cases by isolating people with symptoms at shelters.

State media reported on Sunday that more than 564,000 people were quarantined.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
Latest news
Related news
- Advertisement -