N. Korea reported another jump in the suspected COVID-19 case

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SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea on Wednesday reported 232,880 new cases of fever and six more deaths as leader Kim Jong Un accused officials of “immaturity” and “laxity” in handling the growing COVID-19 outbreak across the country.

The country’s anti-virus headquarters says a rapid spread of fever since the end of April has killed 62 people and left more than 1.7 million sick. It said more than a million people had recovered but at least 691,170 were in quarantine.

Outside experts say most of the illnesses will be Covid-19, although North Korea has been able to confirm a small number of COVID-19 cases since acknowledging the Omicron outbreak last week, probably due to its adequate testing capabilities.

Failure to control the outbreak could have dire consequences for North Korea, given its fragile healthcare system and the rejection of an internationally proposed vaccine that has left 26 million people immunized.

Given the lack of tests and resources to monitor patients, the outbreak is almost certainly higher than the number of fevers, and there are suspicions that North Korea is reporting fewer deaths to soften the blow for Kim, who is already navigating the most difficult moment of her decade. In power. The epidemic has further damaged the economy, which has already collapsed due to mismanagement of Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile development and US-led sanctions.

North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said Kim criticized officials for their initial epidemic response at a meeting of the ruling party’s politburo on Tuesday, which he said “blamed the immaturity of state power in dealing with the crisis” and their “weakness on non-compliance.” Non-activity. “

He called on authorities to “double the effort” to strengthen virus control in the workplace and improve the supply of daily necessities and stabilize living conditions, KCNA said on Wednesday.

A few days after Kim’s remarks, he slammed officials for how they were handling the release of drugs released from state stockpiles and mobilizing his army to help transport supplies to a pharmacy in the capital, Pyongyang, which was open 24 hours a day to deal with the crisis.

Before acknowledging the COVID-19 infection last Thursday, North Korea insisted on a perfect record for keeping away viruses that have reached almost any corner of the world, a claim that was widely suspected. But its extremely strict border closures, large-scale quarantine and propaganda that emphasized anti-virus control as a matter of “national existence” have so far halted a massive outbreak.

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. Kim’s government avoided the millions of vaccine shots provided by the UN-backed COVAX distribution program, probably because of the need for international monitoring attached to them.

It has so far ignored rival South Korea’s offer to supply vaccines, medicines and health workers, but experts say the North may be more willing to accept help from its main ally China. The South Korean government has said it could not confirm media reports that North Korea flew multiple planes on Tuesday to bring back emergency supplies from China.

At Tuesday’s meeting, North Korean officials continued to express confidence that the country could overcome the crisis on its own.

Although Kim was seen wearing a mask for the first time since admitting to North Korea’s Kavid-19 infection last week, state media photos from Tuesday’s meeting showed Kim and members of the Politburo engaging in face-to-face discussions on possible expressions of confidence.

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