In North Korea, the corona situation is apparently coming to a head dramatically. Ruler Kim Jong Un ordered the military to “immediately stabilize” the supply of medicines in the capital Pyongyang, the state news agency KCNA reported on Monday. The isolated country meanwhile reported 50 fever-related deaths.

By Sunday evening, the number of patients with fever symptoms had risen to more than 1.2 million, the state media reported on Monday, citing the emergency center for epidemic prevention. More than half of them have recovered. The isolated and authoritarian country continued to avoid calling the disease by its name. Instead, the talk continued of the “spread of the epidemic”.

North Korea only announced on Thursday that the highly contagious omicron variant had been discovered in Pyongyang. Kim said the outbreak had caused “great unrest” in the country.

According to KCNA, Kim “severely criticized” the “irresponsible work attitude” of the responsible officials in the cabinet and the health authorities. The ruler particularly complained that the pharmacies are not open around the clock. He accused the officials of “not rolling up their sleeves and not properly recognizing the current crisis”.

According to KCNA, a “complete lockdown” has been ordered for all provinces and cities. Despite drastic measures, North Korea reports high numbers of new cases in the unvaccinated population every day.

How many of the “fever” deaths are due to the corona virus has so far remained unclear. According to North Korea expert Cheong Seong-chang of South Korea’s Sejong Institute, “it is not an exaggeration to consider all these cases of ‘fever’ as Covid-19 diseases” given North Korea’s lack of testing. Experts suspect that North Korea does not have the capacity to conduct mass tests.