Kim Jong Un said North Korea’s Covid-19 situation has become grave and admonished senior officials for lapses in the fight against the disease.Mr. Kim, speaking at a Politburo meeting, didn’t specify what had gone wrong. North Korea has reported zero Covid-19 cases and tested more than 31,000 individuals, according to the World Health Organization’s latest figures.But Mr. Kim accused officials of neglecting their duties to execute the country’s countermeasures to fight Covid-19, which caused an unspecified “crucial case,” according to a North Korean state-media report published on Wednesday. He also pointed to the “lack of ability and irresponsibility of cadres.” He blamed them for poor decision-making on scientific, technological and institutional fronts.

The combined failures have created a “great crisis in ensuring the security of the state and safety of the people,” Mr. Kim was quoted as saying.If health conditions inside North Korea have worsened, Mr. Kim is likely to be looking for scapegoats and may be seeking political cover for accepting Covid-19 vaccines from overseas, said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

“This may provide Pyongyang justification for demanding that citizens hunker down more, but it could also be political preparation for accepting vaccines from abroad,” Mr. Easley said.