Kim Jong-un slams "non-positive attitude, slackness and non-activity" of North Korean bureaucrats for worsening Covid outbreak in the East Asian country.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said the negligence and laziness of state officials worsened the country's Covid outbreak, state media reported, as the number of known cases crossed 1.7 million.
Chairing a meeting of the ruling party's Politburo on Tuesday, Kim said there was "immaturity in the state capacity for coping with the crisis" and slammed the "non-positive attitude, slackness and non-activity of state leading officials", the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Wednesday.
The nuclear-armed country reported its first coronavirus cases last week, and the Omicron variant-fuelled outbreak has since ballooned –– marking the failure of a two-year blockade maintained since the start of the pandemic.
North Korea recorded 232,880 new cases of "fever" as of Tuesday evening, bringing the total number to 1.72 million with 62 deaths, KCNA said.
State media reports do not specify how many of the cases and deaths have tested positive for the coronavirus, but experts say the country would struggle to test and diagnose on this scale.
In Tuesday's meeting, Kim promised to "arouse the whole Party like an active volcano" to counter the spread of the virus.
North Korea deploys armed forces and more than 10,000 health workers to help distribute medication in the capital as leader Kim Jong-Un says his country is facing "a great disaster". Journalist Frank Smith has more pic.twitter.com/DGo1hYJxDQ— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) May 17, 2022
WHO deeply concerned
North Korea's leader has put himself at the front and centre of his country's Covid response, saying the outbreak is causing "great upheaval" nationwide.
Medicines donated by the Kim family were distributed to North Koreans in South Hwanghae province, state media said, in a bid to highlight his personal role in fighting the outbreak.
Nearly 3,000 military medics are taking part in a "24-hour service system to carry out the delivery and supply of medicines", state media said on Wednesday.
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.
The World Health Organization is "deeply concerned at the risk of further spread of Covid-19 in the country particularly because the population is unvaccinated and many have underlying conditions putting them at risk of severe disease and death," the UN body's chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.