North Korea declares victory over COVID, suggests leader Kim had it

In this unidentified photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 21, 2022, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a meeting of the Workers’ Party’s politburo on the country’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Reuters via KCNA

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SEOUL, Aug 11 (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has declared victory over Covid-19 and his sister has hinted that he too has contracted the virus, while vowing “deadly revenge” against South Korea, which Answer is responsible for eruption. .

Kim ordered the lifting of maximum anti-epidemic measures imposed in May, adding that North Korea must maintain a “steel-strong anti-epidemic barrier” and intensify anti-epidemic work until the global health crisis ends, North Korea’s KCNA news agency reported on Thursday.

North Korea has not confirmed how many people have caught COVID, apparently because it lacks testing supplies.

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Instead, the number of patients with fever has been reported daily, which has increased to about 4.77 million. But no such new cases have been registered since July 29.

According to footage from state broadcasters, Kim made his announcement in a speech to thousands of mask-less officials sitting indoors at a meeting on Covid policy on Wednesday.

Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, also addressed the gathering and said the young leader himself had symptoms of a fever, according to KCNA, indicating for the first time that he may have contracted the virus.

“Although he was seriously ill with high fever, he could not sleep for a moment thinking about the people he had to take care of until the end during the anti-epidemic war,” she said.

She did not elaborate on Kim’s health but blamed South Korean propaganda leaflets found near the border for the coronavirus outbreak.

North Korean defectors and activists in the South have been flying balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets to the North along with food, medicine, money and other goods for decades. Read on

Kim Yo Jong criticized the new government of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol for trying to lift a 2020 ban on leaflet campaigns, calling the South an “immovable archenemy”.

“We can no longer ignore the incessant flow of waste coming from South Korea,” she said, threatening to “wipe out” South Korean authorities.

“Our resistance must be a deadly revenge.”

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, deplored North Korea’s repeated “baseless claims” and “rude and threatening comments” about the origin of its Covid outbreak.

Asked about Kim’s health, a ministry official said he could not confirm anything.

Restrictions removed

Analysts said that although the authoritarian North has used the pandemic to tighten social controls, his declaration of victory could be a prelude to restoring trade hampered by border lockdowns. Read on

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at North Korea University, said, “The main purpose of the meeting seems to be to promote unity among the people, but it could also be to send a message to China that they are Covid-free and ready to resume trade.” Study in Seoul.

Analysts also said that the declaration of victory over Covid could pave the way for the first nuclear weapons test after 2017.

North Korea’s official death rate of 0.0016%, or 74 out of about 4.77 million, is an “unprecedented miracle,” its anti-Covid chief Ri Chung Gil told the meeting.

The World Health Organization has expressed doubts about North Korea’s statement. Read on

“Whatever the truth behind the numbers, North Korean citizens are being told this story. And right now the numbers are telling them the epidemic is over,” said Martin Williams, a researcher at the US-based 38 North Project.

Like other countries, North Korea may be balancing the need for containment with public frustration with sanctions, he said.

“As of Wednesday evening, state TV was still wearing 100% masks in public activities but the more cases remain at zero, I think people will question the continued limitations on their lives,” Williams said.

North Korea’s announcement on COVID comes despite no known vaccine program. Instead, it said it relied on lockdowns, domestically produced drugs and what Kim called a “beneficial Korean-style socialist system.”

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Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Josh Smith; Edited by Stephen Coates and Lincoln Fest, Robert Birsell

Our Standards: Principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

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