KCNA said Kim made the comments during a Politburo meeting of the ruling Labor Party, which he called to discuss the antivirus bugs. Kim criticized senior officials for alleged incompetence, irresponsibility and passivity in planning and executing antivirus measures amid a prolonging pandemic.
“By neglecting important decisions by the party calling for organizational, material, scientific and technological measures to support ongoing anti-epidemic work in the face of a global health crisis, officials in charge have caused a serious incident that is a huge crisis for the security of the country and his people, ”paraphrased the KCNA Kim.
While North Korea has told the World Health Organization that it has not found a single coronavirus infection after testing more than 30,000 people, experts strongly doubt its claim of a perfect record, given the country’s poor health infrastructure and ties to China.
From the start of the pandemic, North Korea described its anti-virus efforts as a “matter of national existence,” banning tourists, expelling diplomats and severely restricting cross-border traffic and trade. The lockdown has further strained an economy that has been battered by decades of mismanagement and crippling US-led sanctions against the country’s nuclear weapons program.
Kim urged officials to prepare for extended Covid-19 restrictions during a political conference earlier this month, indicating that despite its economic troubles, the country is not ready to open its borders anytime soon.
The north’s expanded border controls come amid uncertainties about the country’s vaccination prospects. COVAX, the United Nations-backed program to ship COVID-19 vaccines around the world, said in February that the north could receive 1.9 million doses in the first half of the year, but plans have been delayed due to global shortages.