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North Korea declares victory over COVID, suggests Kim had it

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Hyonhee Shin and Josh Smith

SEOUL — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declares victory over COVID-19 as his sister swears he was also shown to be infected with the virus. Deadly retaliation against South Korea, which North Korea accuses of causing the outbreak."

Although Kim Jong-Il ordered the lifting of the maximum quarantine measures imposed in May, North Korea has "maintained an iron-strong quarantine barrier to avoid a global health crisis." We need to step up our quarantine work until it's over," he added. North Korea's KCNA news agency reported on Thursday.

North Korea has not confirmed the number of people infected with COVID, apparently due to a lack of testing supplies.

Instead, daily numbers of fever cases were reported, numbering approximately 4.77 million. However, since 29 July, no such new cases have been recorded.

Kim addressed a conference on COVID policy on Wednesday as thousands of unmasked officials sat indoors to declare, according to state broadcaster footage.

According to KCNA, Kim's sister, Kim Yo-jong, also addressed the rally, saying the young leader herself was suffering from a fever, marking the first time she may have contracted the virus.

33} "He was very sick with a high fever, but he couldn't lie down for a moment when he thought about the people he had to care for to the end in the face of the epidemic war," she said. I was.

She did not elaborate on Kim's health, but she blamed South Korean propaganda found near the border on her leaflets for causing the coronavirus outbreak. did.

North Korean defectors and South Korean activists have floated balloons over North Korea carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets for decades. The new administration of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has accused South Korea of ​​seeking to lift a ban on leaflet campaigns in 2020, calling South Korea its "main unchanging enemy."

"She can no longer overlook the unbroken influx of garbage from South Korea," she said, and she threatened to "wipe out" the South Korean authorities.

"Our countermeasures must be deadly retaliation."

South Korea's Unification Ministry, which deals with relations with North Korea, , expressed regret over North Korea's repeated "baseless claims" and "rude and threatening remarks" regarding the origin of the COVID outbreak.

When asked about Kim's health, ministry officials said they could not confirm anything.

Restrictions lifted

Analysts say authoritarian North Korea used the pandemic to tighten social control, but its declaration of victory was hampered by border closures. It could be a prelude to reviving trade that had been stymied, he said.

"While this meeting appears to be primarily aimed at promoting people's unity, it could also send the message that China is free of her COVID and ready to resume trade. said Professor Yang Mujin. at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

Analysts also say the declaration of victory over COVID may pave the way for North Korea to conduct its first nuclear weapons test since her 2017.

North Korean officials say her 0.0016% death rate, or her 74 out of about 4.77 million, is an "unprecedented miracle," said Ri Chung, the company's anti-COVID head. Gil said at the conference.

The World Health Organization has cast doubt on North Korea's claims.

"Whatever the truth behind the numbers, this is the story being told to North Korean citizens, and now the numbers are telling them the epidemic is over," said the United States. said Martin Williams, a researcher at the 38 North Project, which is based in .

Like other countries, North Korea is trying to balance public dissatisfaction with regulation and the need for control. He said he likely has.

"As of Wednesday night, state television still showed 100% mask wearing in public activities, yet zero cases remained. I think the longer we're in, the more people will question the continued restrictions on masks, it's their lives," Williams said.

North Korea's declaration on COVID despite no known vaccine program. Instead, it says it relies on lockdowns, homegrown medicines and what Mr. Kim called a "favorable Korean-style socialist system." (Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Josh Smith; Stephen Coates and Lincoln Feast; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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