(PresidentialHill.com)- This week, North Korea mobilized the military in response to a surge in COVID cases, deploying over 10,000 medical personnel to distribute medications and assist in tracing possible infections.
Last week, North Korea announced its first confirmed COVID outbreak leading Pyongyang to order nationwide lockdowns in cities last Thursday.
According to the state emergency pandemic prevention headquarters, over the weekend, North Korea recorded an additional 269,510 people suffering from “fever,” bringing the total cases to 1.48 million. As of Monday, the death toll increased by six to 56 dead. State media did not say how many people actually tested positive for COVID-19.
The isolated country has no mass vaccination program in place and has limited testing capabilities, leading to concerns that it may be impossible to determine how widely the virus is spreading or how accurate the official numbers are.
State-run outlet Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has reported that Kim Jong-un ordered “a powerful force” from the Korean People’s Army medical corps has been deployed in Pyongyang, ground zero of the epidemic, to improve the supply of medications.
On Sunday, during an emergency meeting of top officials in Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un criticized officials for not moving swiftly enough, noting that state-supplied medicines weren’t getting to pharmacies in time.
He blasted public health officials and his cabinet accusing them of “irresponsible work” and poor “organizing and executing.” He accused the director of the central public prosecutor’s office of “idleness” and neglecting his duty.
To correct the problems and delays, Kim ordered the medical arm of the military to immediately stabilize “the supply of medicines in Pyongyang City.”
After the meeting, Kim and some senior members of the ruling Workers’ Party’s politburo visited pharmacies and medical management offices in Pyongyang to highlight the short supply of medicine.
About 11,000 health officials, teachers, and medical students have joined the tracing efforts through an “intensive medical examination of all inhabitants” throughout the country to find and treat those suffering from “fever.”
However, a spokesperson from the United Nations human rights office warned on Tuesday that Pyongyang’s measures to combat the outbreak could have “devastating” consequences for human rights in North Korea, as the imposed restrictions may further limit access to food and other basic needs.