North Korean leader criticized the work of Pyongyang pharmacies
North Korean armed forces have been involved by the DPRK leadership in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak officially recognized by Pyongyang in the country for the first time. And the leader of the country, Kim Jong-un, sharply criticized the workers responsible for fighting the epidemic.
Although all North Korean cities were locked down on Thursday, there were 392,920 new cases of “fever” and eight deaths between Saturday and Sunday evening alone, state news agency KCNA reported on Monday, although it did not name COVID-19. as the cause of death.
Thus, according to the American channel CNN, the total number of reported cases in North Korea has reached 1.2 million, while more than 648,000 people have recovered, and the total death toll has reached 50. However many experts are skeptical of Pyongyang's official figures, and few believe that the country of about 25 million people has been spared so far by the coronavirus that has infected hundreds of millions worldwide.
According to the KCNA, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) convened an emergency meeting on May 15 and held a discussion of anti-epidemic measures. The meeting was chaired by WPK Secretary General Kim Jong-un. Regarding the supply of medicines on a national scale, he noted that in order to urgently suppress and control the spread of the pandemic, the Politburo of the Party Central Committee even issued an emergency directive on the immediate allocation of state stocks of medicines, ordered all pharmacies to be transferred to a round-the-clock work system. At the same time, it was recognized that mobilization has not yet been manifested and execution is not carried out at the proper level.
Kim Jong-un said that the untimely and unsuccessful supply of state-supplied medicines through pharmacies to residents is due to the fact that his direct executors – employees of the Cabinet of Ministers and the field of health “without a correct understanding of the current crisis, do not actively promote this work, mumbling about the spirit of selfless service to the people just in words.” The North Korean leader sharply criticized the irresponsible approach to business, the weak organizational and executive power of the Cabinet of Ministers and the health sector.
Kim Jong Un also mentioned that the justice and prosecutor's offices, which are legally obliged to powerfully guarantee the implementation of the party's policy, do not have time to establish legal supervision and control over the urgent and accurate implementation of the administrative order to provide medicines, and do not correct various negative phenomena in the reception and sale of medicines. The head of the DPRK sharply criticized the “sabotage and negligence in the service” of the Prosecutor General of the Central Prosecutor's Office, who even in a serious situation does not feel any responsibility, no remorse and does not play any role.
Kim Jong-un issued a special order to involve the military doctors of the People's Army in the immediate stabilization of the work of supplying medicines in Pyongyang. The Secretary General stated that “without the display of maximum enthusiasm and fighting spirit, extraordinary ability and intelligence of all leading employees, it is impossible to take a consistent strategic initiative in today's anti-epidemic war.”
Immediately after the end of the meeting of the Politburo, Kim Jong-un visited pharmacies in Pyongyang and personally got acquainted with the situation with the supply of medicines. “The Secretary General, – the KCNA statement says, – thoroughly familiarized himself with what medicines he received after the introduction of the maximum emergency anti-epidemic system, whether they store medicines according to the rules, whether pharmacies have been transferred to a round-the-clock work system, whether they consult with pharmacy visitors, what antipyretics drugs and antibiotics are at their disposal, which drugs are now demanded by the residents the most and what are their prices.
According to Kim Jong-un, now pharmacies in general are not well-equipped to fulfill their role sufficiently, they are at such a backward level that they do not even have a place to store medicines except for showcases. The leader of the DPRK made a remark about the fact that the sellers do not serve in a medical gown, and the sanitary situation is not up to standard.
Over the weekend, the country's state television aired footage of medical workers spraying empty streets. It also featured an interview with a doctor who advised COVID patients to take medications including paracetamol and ibuprofen, as well as Korean traditional medicines made from various herbs.
The COVID-19 outbreak could be a disaster for North Korea with its dilapidated healthcare infrastructure, lack of testing equipment and a largely unvaccinated population, CNN claims.
North Korea is not known to have imported any coronavirus vaccines, although it is eligible for the global Covax COVID-19 vaccine exchange program. Reuters reported that in February, Covax reduced the number of doses allocated to North Korea because the country was unable to organize any deliveries.
Given the opacity and isolation of the DPRK from the world, which has only increased since the pandemic, it is extremely difficult to assess the real situation on the ground.
South Korea offered aid on Monday, although it is unclear whether Pyongyang will accept it. “We must not fail to provide the necessary assistance to the North Korean people who are under the threat of the coronavirus,” newly elected South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol said during his first speech on the budget in the legislature. “If the North Korean authorities agree, we will not spare any necessary support, such as medicines, including Covid-19 vaccines, medical equipment and medical personnel,” he said, adding that this proposal is independent of political and military considerations. .
South Korea's foreign minister said on Friday that he had discussed providing humanitarian aid to North Korea during a telephone conversation with his US counterpart.
South Korea's unification ministry said it had notified Pyongyang of the its proposal on Monday through the Inter-Korean Joint Liaison Office. His official letter includes an offer of medical supplies including vaccines, masks and testing kits, as well as an offer of “working level talks” between the two countries, the ministry said. North Korea has not yet responded to this notification, the department added.