Kim Jong-un slams North Korea negligence as Covid-19 cases increase

Seoul, May 18 (EFE) .- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Wednesday criticized the country’s negligence in containing the initial coronavirus wave as infections continued to spread nationwide.

State news agency KCNA reported Wednesday that the politburo held a meeting chaired by Kim Jong-un discussing how “top Party officials and state organs have failed to properly handle matters in the current health crisis due to the lack of experience.”

Kim spoke of “immaturity,” “negative attitudes” or “laziness” in “the early phase” of the health emergency, in which, he said, “time is of the essence.”

He praised the new state of “maximum emergency” at the epidemic level, which according to KCNA, has mobilized 3,000 soldiers to ensure the supply of medicines and 1.4 million public health workers.

Authorities reported another six deaths apparently linked to Covid-19 and 232,880 new potential cases a week after confirming the detection of the virus for the first time.

Deaths now amount to 62, reported the KCNA news agency, which spoke of 1.71 million cases of “fever” (North Korea has limited testing capacity) since the virus began to spread, according to the regime.

The situation in the country is worrying because of how contagious the detected omicron subvariant has proven to be and because the regime has not run a vaccination campaign. It rejected the donation of almost 5 million doses in 2021 and does not seem intent on a national inoculation plan.

Data reflected a very rapid transmission throughout the country (almost 7 percent of the population seems to have been infected in less than a month), with special incidence in the capital, Pyongyang, and in municipalities with high economic activity and logistics links such as Nampo, Kaesong and Rason.

The latest data shows that almost 40 percent of deaths correspond to people over 60, although almost a third of the deceased are under 20.

The South Korean government said Wednesday that the regime ignored, for the third day, its communication to meet and discuss sending unconditional aid Seoul has promised.

Various media have reported North Korean planes loading supplies at Chinese airports, while Moscow and Pyongyang discussed directly sending aid Tuesday.

Experts believe North Korea, which has been completely closed since 2020, will not accept the shipment of vaccines because it implies receiving external personnel to advise on cold chains. EFE


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