Kim Jong-un is not happy about the way North Korean officials have been responding to the so-called "fever of an unknown cause."
In a Politburo meeting on Tuesday, Kim denounced top officials, saying their poor response to the crisis from its early stages has exposed holes in the system, and he called for them to redouble their efforts in restoring stability to people's lives.
That's according to North Korean state media, which also reported on Wednesday, another 230-thousand new cases of the "fever" and six more deaths, raising the total number of cases so far to over 1.7 million and the death toll to 62.
The daily number's been on a downward trend the past few days, though, which is perhaps why the meeting was held without masks and why officials there said circumstances were "improving."
Still, the regime seems to be reaching out for help from overseas.
Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday that the North's Ambassador to Russia, Sin Hong-chul, met on Tuesday in Moscow with Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, Igor Morgulov, to discuss bilateral issues and the COVID-19 outbreak.
It's believed that may have included ways Russia can provide aid.
Reportedly, North Korea has already imported millions of masks from China this year.
Citing data from China's customs agency, Voice of America said Wednesday that the regime has also imported a considerable amount of medicine, including some 310,000 dollars worth of unspecified vaccines, which may or may not be for COVID-19.
But the regime has still not responded to Seoul's attempt on Monday to propose working-level talks about COVID-19 relief, even though the two sides are still holding their routine phone calls via the inter-Korean hotline.
The World Health Organization, meanwhile, has expressed concern that new variants could emerge because of the high levels of "unchecked transmission" of the virus among unvaccinated people, such as in North Korea.
Han Seong-woo, Arirang News.