Kim Jong-un said

SEOUL – North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said the country ended the coronavirus outbreak without a vaccine, state media reported on Thursday, while Kim’s sister reported forced South Korea to bring the virus across the border and threatened “fatal retaliation”.

After two years of declaring no cases of Covid-19, North Korea reported an outbreak in May, announcing “maximum emergency” and lock down all its cities and counties. On Wednesday, Mr Kim “stately declared victory” in “destroying the new coronavirus that entered our territory”, the Korean Central News Agency reported.

Kim, speaking at a meeting with national health officials, said his government would downgrade its anti-epidemic alert to “normal” as of Friday, according to the report.

External experts have suspect about North’s Covid-related statements, including previous assertions that it has no cases. The figures it released from May were also viewed with skepticism, in part because the isolated impoverished country did not have enough testing kits or labs to accurately track an outbreak great.

According to Thursday’s report, Mr. Kim said all Covid patients his government identified had been diagnosed with BA.2 sub-Omicron disease. Although North Korea reported 4.7 million cases of high fever during the outbreak, it has never said how many people have been confirmed to have Covid-19.

The North, with a population of about 26 million, has reported only 74 deaths in the outbreak. Even those deaths are officially attributed to “malignant pandemic disease” or “malignant virus”, which is not clear to Covid.

South Korean intelligence officials have told lawmakers that some North Koreans with fever symptoms may have contracted illnesses such as whooping cough, measles or typhoid.

North Korea says its outbreak starting at the end of April. On May 16. In recent weeks, the number has dropped below 100,000 and the government is starting to say it has the outbreak under control. as of July 29.

At Wednesday’s meeting with Kim, North Korean officials said it was an “unprecedented miracle in the history of world public health” as North Korea quelled the epidemic so quickly, though never before. vaccinated people, according to state media reports.

Last month, the North claimed that the coronavirus had entered the country in Strange object from Koreasays its outbreak has begun in villages near the countries’ military borders. balloonwhich North Korean defectors people living in the South often used to send anti-Kim propaganda leaflets, dollar bills and other items across the border.

Kim Yo-jong, Mr. Kim’s sister, took a much more accusing tone during Wednesday’s meeting, blaming “disgusting people in South Korea” for causing the outbreak by spreading “flyers , banknotes, terrible booklets and things on our territory,” according to state media reports.

“We have considered various countermeasures but our countermeasure must be a deadly retaliation,” said Kim, who acts as her brother’s spokesman on the issues. Korea, say.

She also suggested that Mr Kim may have contracted Covid, saying he had been leading the national campaign against the virus despite suffering from a “high fever”.

South Korea said it was impossible for a balloon launch to bring Covid-19 into the North, and said it had consulted disease control experts on the issue. Fifth, the South Korean government called Ms. Kim’s accusations “fanciful” and “very rude”.

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