North Korean leader Kim Jong Un led an emergency politburo meeting and ordered the military to be used to stabilize the supply of medicines in Pyongyang as the country battles its first confirmed COVID 19 outbreak, state media reported on Monday.
North Korea acknowledged last week that it is battling an explosive COVID 19 outbreak, but experts raised concerns that the virus could damage a country with limited medical supplies and no vaccine programme.
At the emergency politburo meeting held on Sunday, Kim criticized the irresponsible work attitude and organizing and executing abilities of the Cabinet and the public health sector, according to state news agency KCNA.
The government had ordered the distribution of its national medicine reserves, but Kim said the drugs procured by the state are not reaching people in a timely and accurate manner through pharmacies.
Kim ordered that the army's medical corps be deployed to immediately stabilize the supply of medicine in Pyongyang City. The KCNA also reported that Kim visited pharmacies near the Taedong River in Pyongyang to find out about the supply and sales of drugs.
Kim said pharmacies are not well-equipped to perform their functions smoothly, there are no adequate drug storage areas other than the showcases, and salespeople are not equipped with proper sanitary clothing.
North Korea said that a large proportion of deaths have been caused by people careless in taking drugs due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of stealth Omicron variant virus infection and its correct treatment method. The country reported 392,920 more people with fever symptoms, with eight new deaths, according to KCNA.
It did not report how many of those suspected cases had tested positive for COVID - 19.