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North Korea: Kim Jong-un orders military to stabilize distribution of COVID-19 medicine
North Korea has been dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 since it was first reported last week. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered his military to stabilize the distribution of medicine for COVID-19 in the capital Pyongyang.
North Korean state media reported that Kim has ordered the North Korean military to assist in stabilizing the distribution of COVID-19 drugs in the capital Pyongyang. This comes amidst the country’s efforts to curb what it describes as its first “explosive” outbreak since the first confirmed infections last week.
In an emergency politburo meeting Sunday, Kim said that the drugs that the nation has obtained were not reaching citizens as quickly as possible. Kim made the comments ahead of his visit to pharmacies near North Korea’s Taedong River. The North Korean leader immediately deployed the military’s medical corps “to stabilize the supply of medicines in Pyongyang City,” according to state media outlet KCNA.
Kim noted that even as authorities ordered the distribution of the national reserves of medicine, pharmacies are not properly equipped to do what is needed. Kim cited the lack of proper drug storage, the lack of personal protective gear for salespeople, and hygiene that is not up to the needed standards.
The North Korean leader also criticized the public health sector as well as the Cabinet, citing their “irresponsible” work attitude, organization, and execution, according to the state outlet.
As North Korea has no national vaccination campaign and COVID-19 treatment, state media has encouraged patients to take painkillers and antibiotics as well as home remedies such as gargling salt water and drinking lonicera japonica tea or willow leaf tea. The home remedies have not been verified.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said Monday that the country is prepared to help North Korea tackle the pandemic and reiterated that he is open to sending humanitarian aid to Pyongyang.
“If North Korea responds, we will spare no medicines including COVID-19 vaccines, medical equipment, and health personnel,” said Yoon in his remarks at the plenary session of the South Korean National Assembly.
Yoon also mentioned that he plans to speak with US President Joe Biden to strengthen the global supply chain through the Indo-Pacific framework as the US leader visits South Korea this week.