North Korea’s Leader Kim Jong Un Meets Top Officials Amid More Reported Fevers

Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “North Korea’s Leader Kim Jong Un Meets Top Officials Amid More Reported Fevers” – below is their description.

North Korea said Saturday it found nearly 220-thousand more people with feverish symptoms, even as leader Kim Jong Un claimed progress in slowing a largely undiagnosed spread of Covid-19 across an unvaccinated population of 26 million.

The outbreak has caused concern about serious tragedies in the poor, isolated country with one of the world’s worst health care systems.

Experts say North Korea is almost certainly downplaying the true scale of the viral spread, including a strangely small death toll, to soften the political blow on Kim as he navigates the toughest moment in his decade of rule.

Around 219,030 North Koreans with fevers were identified in the 24 hours through 6 p.m. Friday, the fifth straight daily increase of around 200-thousand according to the North Korean Central News Agency, which attributed the information to the government’s anti-virus headquarters.

North Korea said more than 2.4 million people have fallen ill and 66 people have died since an unidentified fever began quickly spreading in late April, although the country has only been able to identify a handful of those cases as Covid-19 due to a lack of testing supplies. After maintaining a dubious claim for 2.5 years that it had perfectly blocked the virus from entering its territory, the North admitted to omicron infections last week.

Amid a paucity of public health tools, the North has mobilised more than a million health workers to find people with fevers and isolate them at quarantine facilities. Kim also imposed strict restrictions on travel between cities and towns and mobilised thousands of troops to help with the transport of medicine to pharmacies in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, which has been the centre of the outbreak.

During a ruling party Politburo meeting on Saturday, Kim insisted the country was starting to bring the outbreak under control and called for tightened vigilance to maintain the “affirmative trend” in the anti-virus campaign, KCNA said. But Kim also seemed to hint at relaxing his pandemic response to ease his economic woes, instructing officials to actively modify the country’s preventive measures based on the changing virus situation and to come up with various plans to revitalise the national economy.

KCNA said Politburo members debated ways for “more effectively engineering and executing” the government’s anti-virus policy in accordance with how the spread of the virus was being “stably controlled and abated,” but the report did not specify what was discussed.

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