Kim Jong Un admits North Korea’s COVID-19 outbreak is a ‘great disaster’

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appearing wearing a face mask on television for the first time on May 12, 2022 after the country confirmed its first-ever cases of COVID-19.Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

  • Kim Jong Un has said the COVID-19 outbreak in North Korea is the biggest “turmoil” since its founding.

  • North Korea said on Saturday there had been more than half a million cases of “fever” in recent weeks.

  • The country is particularly at risk due to its underfunded health system and unvaccinated population.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called the country’s COVID-19 outbreak a “great disaster”, the BBC reported, citing state media.

“The spread of the malignant epidemic is [the greatest] unrest has plagued our country since its founding,” in 1948, Kim said at an emergency meeting on Saturday, according to state news agency KCNA.

North Korea said on Saturday there had been more than half a million cases of ‘fever’ in recent weeks, just two days after claiming to have found its first-ever COVID case and imposed a lockdown. national.

The new figure marked an increase from the estimated 350,000 cases reported on Friday.

The country is particularly at risk due to its underfunded health system, limited testing capabilities and an unvaccinated and malnourished population.

Kim called for an all-out battle to slow the spread of the virus at Saturday’s meeting and urged the country to have confidence in overcoming the crisis, according to KCNA.

“If we do not lose sight of the implementation of the epidemic policy and maintain strong organizational power and control based on resolute unity of party and people and strengthen our fight against the epidemic, we will we can more than overcome the crisis,” Kim said.

The North Korean leader blamed the outbreak on bureaucratic incompetence and said lessons could be learned from China’s response to the virus, Reuters reported.

Experts have warned that the number of cases in North Korea is likely to be much higher than reported figures.

It is one of only two countries in the world without a known COVID-19 vaccination program and has previously turned down vaccine offers from China.

The country of 26 million people ranks last in the world for its ability to respond quickly and mitigate the spread of an outbreak, according to the latest Global Health Security Index in December, Reuters said.

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