More than a million Covid cases are expected in North Korea
As a wave of COVID cases sweeps the country, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un chastised health officials and ordered the army to assist in the distribution of drugs.
According to state media, more than a million people have been affected by a “fever” in Pyongyang.
There have been 50 deaths, although it’s unknown how many of those instances tested positive for COVID.
Because North Korea has limited testing capabilities, only a few examples have been confirmed.
Because of a lack of vaccines and a poor healthcare system, North Koreans are particularly vulnerable to the virus. In the remote country, there is a nationwide lockdown.
Mr Kim, according to state media, called an emergency politburo meeting over the weekend, accusing authorities of botching the allocation of national pharmaceutical stocks.
He ordered the army’s medical corps to intervene with “strong forces” to “quickly stabilise the supply of medications in Pyongyang City.”
Although specialists believe the virus has been circulating for some time, the country revealed its first confirmed COVID cases last week.
Mr Kim has implemented “maximum emergency” measures, which include workplace lockdowns and gathering limitations.
Last year, the international community gave millions of AstraZeneca and Chinese-made vaccines to North Korea, but Pyongyang claimed control of COVID by locking its borders early in January 2020.
North Korea has used stringent quarantines to contain epidemics in the past, such as Sars or Ebola, according to Professor Hazel Smith of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.
If the North requests it, South Korea has pledged to provide unlimited supplies, including vaccine doses, health staff, and medical equipment.
Mr Kim described the quickly expanding Covid-19 outbreak as a “big calamity” on Saturday.
In addition to the immediate health implications, concerns have been expressed about North Korea’s food production. It went through a devastating famine in the 1990s, and the World Food Programme believes that 11 million of the country’s 25 million inhabitants are malnourished now.
Analysts believe that if agricultural labourers are unable to tend to their fields, the consequences will be disastrous.