Kim Jong-un ordered the military to stabilize Pyongyang’s supply of medicines amid the COVID-19 outbreak, KCNA reported.
Days later, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the army to stabilize Pyongyang’s supply of medicines announcing a blockade After the COVID-19 outbreak, state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
North Korea admitted for the first time last week that it was battling an “explosive” COVID-19 outbreak that experts fear could devastate a country with limited medical supplies and no vaccine program.
The number of people reporting fever symptoms in the country rose by 392,920 and eight new deaths were reported, the state news agency said.
It did not report how many suspected cases tested positive for COVID-19. North Korea does not have a coronavirus vaccine, antiviral treatment, or mass testing capacity.
Kim Jong Un’s government has maintained that the country was coronavirus-free until a few days ago.
State media said 50 people had died and more than a million workers had mobilized to stop the spread of the outbreak.
At an emergency meeting of the Politburo held on Sunday, Kim Jong-un criticized the “irresponsible” working attitude and organizational and executive ability of the cabinet and public health departments, KCNA reported.
“The officials in the cabinet and the public health department in charge of supply are not rolling up their sleeves and not properly understanding the current crisis, but are just talking about the spirit of serving the people wholeheartedly,” Kim told the officials, KCNA said.
The government has ordered the allocation of its national drug stockpile, but Kim said state-procured medicines are not reaching people in a timely and accurate manner through pharmacies, the report said.
Kim Jong-un ordered the deployment of a “strong force” of military medical teams to “immediately stabilize the supply of medicines to Pyongyang city”.
KCNA also reported that Kim Jong-un visited a pharmacy near the Taedong River in Pyongyang to learn about the supply and sales of medicines.
Kim said the pharmacy was not well-equipped to perform its functions smoothly, there were not enough drug storage areas other than display cabinets, and salespeople were not equipped with proper hygiene clothing.
North Korea said a “large proportion” of deaths so far have been due to people taking “careless medication due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of the invisible Omicron mutated virus infection and its proper treatment”.
Although North Korea has maintained a strict coronavirus lockdown since the pandemic began, experts say the Omicron outbreak in the region means it’s only a matter of time before COVID spreads to the country.