*Kim Jong-un reprimanded top officials in North Korea for the country's "grave crisis" and failure to avert COVID-19.*
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un criticised top officials for failing to prevent a "grave calamity" caused by a coronavirus outbreak, using strong language that raised the threat of a mass outbreak in a country that would be ill-equipped to deal with it.
Although the state media's report on Wednesday did not define what "critical" lapse forced Kim to convene the ruling Workers' Party's Politburo meeting, experts believe the North is facing a serious setback in its pandemic war.
Pyongyang closed its borders in January of last year in an attempt to shield itself from the virus, which began in neighbouring China and has since spread throughout the world. It has never publicly confirmed any cases of the disease, either through state media or through test statistics provided to the World Health Organization.
At a meeting on Tuesday, members of the politburo's praesidium, the ruling Workers' Party's highest decision-making body, were recalled and new ones named, according to Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Government officials were also "transferred and appointed."
Analysts believe Pyongyang is utilising Kim's appearance to praise him by showing him as a "dedicated, hardworking" leader as the country grapples with a food shortage and other issues.