After declaring victory over COVID-19, North Korea ends mask mandate


North Korea
People wearing protective face masks commute amid concerns over the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Pyongyang, North Korea March 30, 2020, in this photo released by Kyodo. Picture taken March 30, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

North Korea has abolished a mask requirement and reduced other viral restrictions, state media said on Saturday, days after leader Kim Jong Un declared "victory" against the COVID-19 virus.

Pyongyang, earlier this week, blamed Seoul for the breakout of COVID-19 in the North and threatened to "eradicate" the South Korean government if necessary.

Virus limitations were loosened because "the public health crisis created in the country was completely defused and its entire territory was made clean and free of the malignant virus in the shortest time possible," according to the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) of Pyongyang.

"The step for mandatory mask-wearing has been lifted in all areas except for frontline areas and borderline cities and counties, as the entire nation has been declared an epidemic-free zone," KCNA reported.

Earlier this week, North Korea declared a "dazzling victory" over COVID-19, barely months after announcing its first cases in May.

In addition, social isolation and other anti-virus measures were eased, except in border regions.

People with respiratory disease symptoms were advised to wear masks, and North Koreans were encouraged to "remain vigilant" against "abnormal things" — a reference to propaganda pamphlets from the South.

Despite a restriction that went into effect in 2021, South Korean activists have flown propaganda leaflets and money over the border for years, despite protests from the North.

Wednesday, Kim Yo Jong, the strong sister of Kim Jong Un, blamed these actions for the North's Covid outbreak and threatened Seoul with "deadly" punishment.

Kim Yo Jong further disclosed that the supreme commander had contracted a "high fever" during the outbreak.

Since late April, KCNA reports that North Korea has registered roughly 4.8 million "fever" cases, but only a portion has been identified as COVID-19, with only 74 deaths.

Long ago, experts, notably the World Health Organization, questioned Pyongyang's COVID-19 figures and assertions that the virus was under control.

According to analysts, North Korea has one of the poorest healthcare systems in the world, with poorly equipped hospitals and few intensive care units.

It is suspected that none of its 26 million people have been vaccinated, but it may have received some vaccines from China, according to NK News, a specialist website located in Seoul.

Publish : 2022-08-13 10:29:00

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