(2nd LD) NK leader proclaims victory in fight against COVID-19 (state media)

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, English report quotes throughout; ADD photos, byline)
By Chae Yun-hwan

SEOUL, Aug. 11 (Yonhap) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has declared victory for his country’s emergency campaign against COVID-19, state media reported Thursday.

Kim made the announcement at a national anti-epidemic measures meeting he chaired the day before, according to Korea’s official Central News Agency (KCNA).

He “solemnly declared victory in the maximum emergency anti-epidemic campaign to exterminate the novel coronavirus that had made inroads into our territory and protect people’s lives and health,” he said in an article. in English.

Touting the three-month success of the impoverished nation’s anti-virus measures, Kim proclaimed a decision to lower its “maximum” emergency epidemic prevention system to a normal level.

Kim, however, stressed the need for continued vigilance and stricter measures in border areas to prevent COVID-19 from re-entering the country, citing the global spread of the variants and monkeypox.

Meanwhile, Kim Yo-jong, the leader’s younger sister who serves as deputy department director of the Workers’ Party of Korea Central Committee, blamed the country’s virus crisis on the South’s ‘hysterical farce’ to escalate the confrontation. and reiterated the claim that “extraterrestrial things” from the South carried the virus to the North.

“We have already considered various countermeasure plans, but our countermeasure must be deadly retaliation,” she told the KCNA meeting in a separate English-language article. “If the enemy persists in such dangerous acts as fomenting incursions of the virus into our Republic, we will respond not only by exterminating the virus, but also by annihilating the South Korean authorities.”

Pyongyang announced its first case of COVID-19 on May 12 after claiming to be coronavirus-free for more than two years and implementing nationwide lockdowns. The daily North fever tally has remained at zero since July 29 after peaking at more than 392,920 on May 15

Last month, the North claimed its coronavirus outbreak originated from extraterrestrial objects found near the inter-Korean border, alluding to ballooned materials sent by North Korean defector groups to South Korea, such as anti-Pyongyang leaflets.