At an expanded meeting of the Workers’ Party of Korea’s Politburo on Tuesday, party general secretary Kim Jong Un blasted health officials for a lapse in safety concerning the country’s tight quarantine against COVID-19.
According to Yonhap News Agency, which cited North Korean media, Kim said this lapse had “caused a grave incident that created a crisis for the safety of the country and the people.”
He goes on to say that the “incompetence and irresponsibility of the executives” in charge of implementing the country’s Emergency Response Plan” were at fault. However, the report gives no precise details about what the “grave incident” was.
According to NK News, there have not been any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which has maintained a strict quarantine for 515 days. The country has even pulled its athletes out of the Tokyo Olympic Games over fears they could be exposed to the virus or serve as a vector for it to enter the country. However, rumors abound about the “truth” and a rumored secret COVID-19 outbreak.
The World Health Organization-run COVAX program is slated to deliver 1.7 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to the DPRK, but as of early June, the shipments from South Korea had been repeatedly delayed.
In March, the WPK newspaper Rodong Sinmun hailed the advent of mass vaccination campaigns, calling the plethora of COVID-19 vaccines “a glimmer of hope for humanity” against the pandemic. However, the paper cautioned that “vaccines are never a universal panacea,” hinting that other public health measures must also be used to contain the virus.
Recent experience with the Delta variant has borne the truth of RS’ assertions, as nations reimpose restrictions despite having high vaccination rates. In Israel, the Delta Variant has been found to infect patients already vaccinated against COVID-19.