North Korea has declared Victory over COVID-19 and blamed Seoul for the Outbreak

World | August 11, 2022, Thursday // 09:46
Bulgaria: North Korea has declared Victory over COVID-19 and blamed Seoul for the Outbreak @Amnesty International

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared victory over the coronavirus in his country, world agencies reported, citing official media.

Kim "solemnly declared victory in the highly extraordinary anti-epidemic campaign to eradicate the new coronavirus," the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

The North Korean leader announced the news at a meeting dedicated to anti-epidemic measures.

He ordered the anti-epidemic measures introduced in May to be canceled.

North Korea has never announced how many confirmed cases of the virus it has detected, but on July 29 it stopped reporting new infections, in what it terms "cases with fever symptoms." But international aid organizations said the reclusive communist state had limited testing capabilities.

Kim said that despite the lifting of the so-called maximum anti-epidemic measures, North Korea should continue to maintain a "steel-strong barrier against the epidemic and intensify work to counter it until the global health crisis is over," the KCNA said in a statement.

The North Korean leader's sister, Kim Yo-jong, said at the same meeting that he also had "fever symptoms".

"Even when he was seriously ill with a high fever, he could not lie down for a minute because he was constantly thinking about the people he had to take care of until the end in the war against the epidemic," she said in a eulogy for her brother.

Kim Yo-jong accused South Korea of ​​causing the outbreak by bringing the coronavirus to the closed country with propaganda leaflets against the North. In response, Pyongyang will take "deadly retaliation," she warned.

Although authoritarian North Korea has used the pandemic to tighten its grip on society, declaring victory over the virus could be a prelude to a resumption of trade that has been hampered by state border closures and other restrictive measures, analysts say.

Observers said it could also pave the way for Pyongyang's first nuclear weapons test since 2017.

The official death toll in North Korea "with fever symptoms" is 74, which is an "unprecedented miracle" compared to other countries, the KCNA said, citing an official.

The peak in the reported daily number of new such cases was reached on May 15, when they exceeded 392,920. This prompted health experts to warn of the danger of an imminent crisis in North Korea.

In the absence of independent data on the situation, the World Health Organization last month cast doubt on Pyongyang's claims and opined that the situation in North Korea is not improving, but getting worse.

In addition, North Korea has declared victory over the coronavirus, although it is not known to have started any vaccination campaign, the agencies noted. Instead, it relied on lockdowns, local treatment methods and, in Kim's words, "the advantages of a Korean-style socialist system."

North Korean authorities have said that among the measures they are implementing are increased medical examinations across the country and daily PCR testing of water samples taken from border areas.

North Korea has also said it is developing new, more effective methods to detect the virus and its variants, as well as other infectious diseases such as monkeypox.

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