Highlights

  • 8 Covid-19 deaths in North Korea
  • 392,920 more people with fever symptoms
  • 1.2 million people fell ill amid a rapid spread of fever since late April

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8 Covid-19 deaths in North Korea, Kim Jong Un blasts officials

At a ruling party Politburo meeting on Sunday, Kim criticised government and health officials over what he portrayed as a botched pandemic response.

North Korea on Monday reported eight new deaths and 392,920 more people with fever symptoms amid a growing COVID-19 outbreak.

The latest figures came as leader Kim Jong Un blasted officials over delays in medicine deliveries and ordered his military to get involved in the pandemic response in the capital, Pyongyang.

The North's emergency anti-virus headquarters said more than 1.2 million people fell ill amid a rapid spread of fever since late April and about 564,860 were currently under quarantine.

The eight new deaths reported in the 24 hours through 1800 local time (0900GMT) on Sunday brought its death toll to 50.

State media didn't specify how many of the fever cases and deaths were confirmed as COVID-19 infections.

At a ruling party Politburo meeting on Sunday, Kim criticised government and health officials over what he portrayed as a botched pandemic response.

State medicine supplies weren't being supplied to pharmacies in time because of their "irresponsible work attitude" and lack of organisation, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

KCNA photos showed Kim visiting a small pharmacy in the capital.

Similar shops have been a regular feature of the North Korean capital over the past decade and more.

But their stocks are often mostly Korean traditional remedies, with few modern or foreign-made medicines.

North Korea has long suffered a lack of medicine of all kinds, as well as problems of out of date supplies.

The Politburo had issued an emergency order to immediately release and quickly distribute state medicine reserves and for pharmacies to switch over to 24-hour shifts.

But Kim said such steps weren't being properly implemented and he ordered that the medical units of his military get involved in stabilising the supply of medicine in Pyongyang, KCNA said.

North Korea's claim of a perfect record in keeping out the virus for two and a half years had been widely doubted.

But its extremely strict border closure, large-scale quarantines and propaganda that stressed anti-virus controls as a matter of "national existence" may have staved off a huge outbreak until now.

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