SEOUL, South Korea ( Associated Press) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other top officials discussed revising strict anti-pandemic restrictions on Sunday, according to state media, reiterating a controversial assertion that the first COVID outbreak is abating. -19 in the country.
The issue raised during a Politburo meeting suggests that he will soon relax the set of draconian restrictions imposed after he acknowledged his omicron outbreak this month amid concerns about his economic and food situation.
Kim and the other politburo members “positively assessed the pandemic situation that it is controlled and improving across the country,” according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The politburo “examined the issue of effectively and quickly coordinating and expanding anti-epidemic regulations and guidelines given the current stable anti-pandemic situation.”
On Sunday, North Korea reported 89,500 new patients with fever symptoms, bringing its total cases to 3.4 million. He did not say if there were any additional deaths.
The previous death toll released on Friday was 69 for a mortality rate of 0.002%, which is too low and no other country has registered in its fight against COVID-19, including advanced economies.
Many outside experts say North Korea is disclosing lower-than-real death tolls to prevent any political damage to Kim at home.
They say North Korea must have more deaths because most of its 26 million people are unvaccinated and lack the capacity to treat critically ill patients.
Others suspect North Korea may have exaggerated its initial fever cases in an attempt to tighten internal control over its population.
Due to the outbreak, North Korea has instituted a nationwide lockdown, isolating all work and residential units from one another and prohibiting the movement of people from region to region.
The country still allows agriculture, construction and other industrial activities, but the tightening of restrictions raised concerns about its food insecurity and the fragility of its already affected economy after border closures due to the pandemic.