ARS TECHNICA – A mushrooming COVID-19 outbreak in North Korea has reached over 1.7 million cases, with nearly 233,000 new cases reported on Wednesday alone, according to state media reports.
It’s a startling rise given that North Korea claimed to have zero COVID-19 cases a week ago.
But now the secretive, authoritarian country is acknowledging that the pandemic virus has been spreading “explosively” since late April.
Many experts have interpreted the admission as a sign of a dire situation in the country and a plea for international aid.
North Korea has a weak health care system, and many of its people are undernourished due to an ongoing food crisis.
“WHO is deeply concerned at the risk of further spread of COVID-19 in [North Korea], particularly because the population is unvaccinated and many have underlying conditions putting them at risk of severe disease and death.”
Moreover, the country previously shunned offers of vaccines from the United Nations-backed COVAX program and China, leaving its population unvaccinated.
After North Korea acknowledged the outbreak for the first time last Thursday, South Korea offered aid, including vaccines.
But North Korea has reportedly not responded. But the country may have accepted aid from its closest ally, China.
According to unnamed diplomats who spoke with The Wall Street Journal, three North Korean cargo planes flew to the Chinese city of Shenyang on Monday, returning the same day carrying basic medical supplies.
In the meantime, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has openly chastised his country’s response as state media reported a rosy outlook.
“For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began sweeping the world in early 2020, Pyongyang admitted last week that the country is facing an “explosive” spread of the virus, a concerning development for the largely unvaccinated country.” – THE WASHINGTON POST , May 16, 2022
In a politburo meeting on Tuesday, Kim blasted the “immaturity in the state capacity for coping with the crisis” and blamed the poor response on officials’ “non-positive attitude, slackness, and non-activity,” according to KCNA … READ MORE.