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N.Korean leader slams officials for COVID response

STORY: As North Korea battles an explosive COVID-19 outbreak, leader Kim Jong Un has slammed his country's response to the crisis.

Kim met government officials on Tuesday (May 17) and, according to state media, called their efforts 'immature' and inadequate.

Since North Korea first acknowledged the outbreak last week, it has reported some 1.7 million people with fever symptoms and more than 60 deaths.

The country has mobilized its armed forces to help fight the virus with state television on Tuesday showing large numbers of troops gathered in a square in the capital.

Yet, North Korea has not stated mass vaccinations and has limited testing capabilities.

Many experts are concerned it may be difficult to assess how widely and rapidly the disease is spreading.

All this comes as Kim is said to be considering testing an intercontinental ballistic missile in the next few days.

According to U.S. and South Korean officials, the test is expected to happen ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden's first official trip to South Korea on Friday.

A weapons test could overshadow Biden's trip and complicate international efforts to offer Pyongyang aid in its battle against COVID.

A UN spokesperson warned on Tuesday efforts by North Korea to curb the virus could have devastating consequences for human rights in the country.

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