The Fort Worth Press - North Korea's Kim slams officials over pandemic response, deploys army

USD -
AED 3.673016
AFN 71.737228
ALL 92.504722
AMD 387.156217
ANG 1.800157
AOA 848.359004
ARS 889.580927
AUD 1.508751
AWG 1.8025
AZN 1.703567
BAM 1.801999
BBD 2.016769
BDT 117.160363
BGN 1.801999
BHD 0.376468
BIF 2867.093564
BMD 1
BND 1.348689
BOB 6.901921
BRL 5.138719
BSD 0.998848
BTN 83.019118
BWP 13.570738
BYN 3.268807
BYR 19600
BZD 2.01336
CAD 1.36675
CDF 2810.00011
CHF 0.914499
CLF 0.032842
CLP 906.220468
CNY 7.241992
CNH 7.26126
COP 3864.74
CRC 512.092873
CUC 1
CUP 26.5
CVE 101.593956
CZK 22.705302
DJF 177.841249
DKK 6.87691
DOP 58.819736
DZD 134.383379
EGP 47.144437
ERN 15
ETB 57.390519
EUR 0.92175
FJD 2.26765
FKP 0.796099
GBP 0.78505
GEL 2.70968
GGP 0.796099
GHS 14.532639
GIP 0.796099
GMD 67.774965
GNF 8586.17036
GTQ 7.758787
GYD 208.974064
HKD 7.81284
HNL 24.683282
HRK 6.979956
HTG 132.795872
HUF 354.269684
IDR 16045
ILS 3.658575
IMP 0.796099
INR 83.05245
IQD 1308.425853
IRR 42075.000091
ISK 138.170072
JEP 0.796099
JMD 156.318238
JOD 0.708896
JPY 156.873999
KES 130.349572
KGS 87.955704
KHR 4074.261759
KMF 455.650128
KPW 899.999697
KRW 1366.349793
KWD 0.30701
KYD 0.832358
KZT 442.391855
LAK 21378.357212
LBP 89445.15594
LKR 299.212236
LRD 193.574997
LSL 18.479837
LTL 2.95274
LVL 0.60489
LYD 4.839913
MAD 9.963146
MDL 17.71963
MGA 4426.221956
MKD 56.774312
MMK 2097.572212
MNT 3449.999773
MOP 8.03796
MRU 39.739565
MUR 46.079845
MVR 15.459914
MWK 1731.791588
MXN 16.672615
MYR 4.709637
MZN 63.496955
NAD 18.480124
NGN 1468.150173
NIO 36.762335
NOK 10.5915
NPR 132.830884
NZD 1.633275
OMR 0.384669
PAB 0.998848
PEN 3.734095
PGK 3.881697
PHP 58.190296
PKR 277.863546
PLN 3.92215
PYG 7512.783895
QAR 3.641506
RON 4.586599
RSD 107.934675
RUB 91.625017
RWF 1313.493343
SAR 3.750603
SBD 8.475185
SCR 13.659033
SDG 600.999662
SEK 10.660099
SGD 1.349602
SHP 1.26345
SLE 22.847303
SLL 20969.50094
SOS 571.000261
SRD 32.274498
STD 20697.981008
SVC 8.740038
SYP 2512.529855
SZL 18.363661
THB 36.649681
TJS 10.767402
TMT 3.51
TND 3.11875
TOP 2.364801
TRY 32.224902
TTD 6.783065
TWD 32.229839
TZS 2596.949818
UAH 40.091215
UGX 3800.617312
UYU 38.439213
UZS 12698.207951
VEF 3622552.534434
VES 36.500745
VND 25471
VUV 118.72199
WST 2.803093
XAF 604.373704
XAG 0.032815
XAU 0.000428
XCD 2.70255
XDR 0.754503
XOF 604.373704
XPF 110.701654
YER 250.349933
ZAR 18.41569
ZMK 9001.187991
ZMW 26.658682
ZWL 321.999592
  • SCS

    0.1300

    13.18

    +0.99%

  • BCC

    4.6500

    141.11

    +3.3%

  • BCE

    -0.2200

    33.57

    -0.66%

  • NGG

    -1.0300

    60.69

    -1.7%

  • GSK

    -0.0300

    45.12

    -0.07%

  • RBGPF

    -1.8300

    55.21

    -3.31%

  • RYCEF

    0.1020

    5.65

    +1.81%

  • CMSC

    0.1200

    24.24

    +0.5%

  • CMSD

    0.0000

    24.09

    0%

  • RIO

    0.4300

    71.85

    +0.6%

  • VOD

    -0.0300

    9.33

    -0.32%

  • AZN

    0.3600

    78.54

    +0.46%

  • RELX

    0.5300

    44.69

    +1.19%

  • BP

    0.3000

    36.72

    +0.82%

  • JRI

    0.0250

    11.395

    +0.22%

  • BTI

    -0.1100

    30.62

    -0.36%

North Korea's Kim slams officials over pandemic response, deploys army
North Korea's Kim slams officials over pandemic response, deploys army / Photo: © KCNA VIA KNS/AFP

North Korea's Kim slams officials over pandemic response, deploys army

North Korea's Kim Jong Un criticised "irresponsible" officials over the country's pandemic response and ordered the army to help distribute medicine, state media said on Monday, as Seoul offered Covid-19 aid.

Text size:

More than a million people have been ill with what Pyongyang refers to as "fever", state media said, despite leader Kim ordering nationwide lockdowns in a bid to slow the spread of disease through the unvaccinated population.

In a sign of how serious the situation may be, Kim "strongly criticised" healthcare officials for what he called a botched response to epidemic prevention -- specifically a failure to keep pharmacies open 24/7 to distribute medicine.

He ordered the army to get to work "on immediately stabilising the supply of medicines in Pyongyang", the capital, where Omicron was detected last week in North Korea's first reported cases of Covid-19.

Kim has put himself front and centre of North Korea's disease response, overseeing near-daily emergency Politburo meetings on the outbreak, which he has said is causing "great upheaval" in the country.

The failure to distribute medicine properly was "because officials of the Cabinet and public health sector in charge of the supply have not rolled up their sleeves, not properly recognising the present crisis", state media KCNA reported Kim as saying.

Kim, who inspected pharmacies first hand, "strongly criticised the Cabinet and public health sector for their irresponsible work attitude", KCNA said.

He also criticised lapses in official legal oversight, flagging "several negative phenomena in the nationwide handling and sale of medicines".

North Korea has one of the world's worst healthcare systems, with poorly-equipped hospitals, few intensive care units, and no Covid treatment drugs or mass testing ability, experts say.

"While visiting a pharmacy, Kim Jong Un saw with his eyes the shortage of medicines in North Korea," Cheong Seong-jang, researcher at the Sejong Institute told AFP.

"He may have guessed but the situation may have been more serious than he had expected."

KCNA said that as of May 15, a total of 50 people had died, with 1,213,550 cases of "fever" and over half a million currently receiving medical treatment.

North Korea had maintained a rigid blockade since the pandemic began, but with massive Omicron outbreaks in neighbouring countries, experts said it was inevitable Covid would sneak in.

- Seoul's help? -

Kim's public criticism is a sign that the situation on the ground is grim, said Yang Moo-jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

"He is pointing out the overall inadequacy of the quarantine system," he said.

North Korea is likely to need international assistance to get through the massive Omicron surge, Yang said, and will turn to China first -- but maybe the United States or South Korea if it gets desperate.

North Korea has previously rejected offers of Chinese-made vaccines, but Kim has said they will "actively learn" from Beijing's so-called zero-Covid disease management approach.

South Korea's new President Yoon Suk-yeol said Monday that he would "not hold back on providing necessary assistance to the North Korean people".

"If the North Korean authorities accept, we will not spare any necessary support such as medicine -- including Covid-19 vaccines, medical supplies and healthcare personnel," he told South Korea's National Assembly.

Pyongyang has not responded to Seoul's most recent official communication detailing the Covid aid offer, the unification ministry said.

The decision on whether to accept help may depend more on Kim's nuclear testing plans than the medical situation, said the Sejong Institute's Cheong.

Despite the public health crisis, new satellite imagery indicates North Korea has resumed construction at a long-dormant nuclear reactor.

The United States and South Korea have warned that Kim is preparing to conduct another nuclear test -- the regime's seventh.

"Receiving help from South Korea will hurt its ego," Cheong told AFP.

"If Kim Jong Un is determined to conduct a test, he will not accept South Korea's help," he added.

Analysts have warned Kim could speed up testing plans to distract the population from the coronavirus outbreak.

US President Joe Biden is set to visit Seoul later this week, with discussions of Pyongyang's weapons programs and Covid-19 outbreak likely to top the agenda.

L.Davila--TFWP