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Kim Jong-un hails North Korea’s “victory” over Covid-19

Pyongyang, which announced its first case of Covid-19 on May 12, has not recorded any since July 29. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un welcomed this “victory (…) in the war against the malignant pandemic disease” on Wednesday.

Nearly three months after announcing his first case of Covid-19, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un proclaimed, on Wednesday August 10, a “smashing victory” over Covid-19 and ordered the lifting of restrictions imposed in the country. No cases have been officially registered in North Korea since July 29.

Chairing a meeting with health personnel and scientists, Kim Jong-un welcomed this “victory (…) in the war against the malignant pandemic disease”, according to the official news agency KCNA.

“The victory won by our people is a historic event that once again showed the world the greatness of our state, the indomitable tenacity of our people and the beautiful national customs of which we are proud,” the North Korean leader added. , quoted by the agency.

North Korea, one of the first countries in the world to close its borders in January 2020 after the virus emerged in neighboring China, has long boasted of its ability to ward off the disease.

An official fatality rate of 0.002%

Pyongyang announced its first case of Covid-19 on May 12, and Kim Jong-un took personal action in the fight against the epidemic. He notably ordered a national confinement, his population not being vaccinated, and deployed the army.

The country’s hospitals are notoriously under-equipped, with few intensive care units and no coronavirus treatment or vaccine available, experts say. The North Korean health system was ranked 193rd out of 195 countries by a study by the American University Johns Hopkins last year.

North Korea has recorded nearly 4.8 million infections since late April, with just 74 deaths, an official case fatality rate of 0.002%, according to KCNA.

Neighboring South Korea, which has an efficient health system and a high vaccination rate among its population, has a mortality rate of 0.12% by comparison, according to official figures.

Seoul accused of causing the Covid-19 epidemic

The leader’s influential sister revealed that he himself had been sick, according to another KCNA report. The leader “suffered from high fevers during the days of this quarantine war, but he couldn’t lie down for a moment as he was thinking about the people he was responsible for,” Kim Yo Jong said.

She also accused Seoul of causing the Covid outbreak in her country, state media reported Thursday. She attacked the sending of propaganda flyers by balloons from South Korea, evoking a “crime against humanity”, reported the official KCNA news agency. Pyongyang had previously accused “foreign things” near the border with the South of causing the outbreak of Covid-19 in the isolated country, allegations denied by Seoul.

Despite a ban imposed in 2021, South Korean activists continue to send balloons containing leaflets and dollar bills, sparking protests from Pyongyang. Denouncing a “crime against humanity”, the sister and adviser of Kim Jong Un threatened Seoul with “strong reprisals”.

Analysts say the declaration of victory against Covid-19 demonstrates North Korea’s willingness to turn to other priorities, “like reviving the economy or carrying out a nuclear test”, according to Leif -Eric Easley, professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

“Kim Yo Jong’s belligerent rhetoric is disturbing because not only will it attempt to blame South Korea for a possible resurgence of Covid, but it also seeks to justify North Korea’s upcoming military provocation,” he said. he added.

With AFP and Reuters