The North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has released a statement announcing 21 new COVID casualties and warning that the country is now in “great turmoil.” As of the time of writing, North Korea’s COVID-related tolls stand are 27 people dead and a further 524,440 infected. 243,680 have recovered, according to authorities and the remaining 280,810 are still in quarantine. North Korea had earlier declared a nationwide lockdown on Friday as part of measures to cull the spread of the disease after it confessed that its attempts to contain the virus over the past two years had failed.
Speaking during an emergency meeting of the ruling Worker’s Party, Kim described the pandemic as a great turmoil to fall upon the country since its founding. But he insisted that if they didn’t lose focus in implementing their planned epidemic policies they would surely overcome the crisis.
Outside observers are not so optimistic. Most have spoken out about their belief that the pandemic represented a serious crisis for North Korea which many believe had not vaccinated its population of 26 million people. The country’s healthcare system is also in shambles and would be inadequate to deal with a truly serious outbreak.
Compounding the matter is North Korea’s repeated refusal of aid from countries like Russia and China and even from the World Health Organization’s Covax Scheme over fears that administering the vaccines would require outside monitoring and supervision.