While lifting the maximum anti-pandemic measures, Kim said that North Korea must maintain a “steel-strong anti-epidemic barrier and intensifying the anti-epidemic work until the end of the global health crisis,” according to a report by state news agency KCNA.
Observers have also said it may clear the way for the North to conduct a nuclear weapon test for the first time since 2017.
North Korea’s official death rate of 74 people is an “unprecedented miracle” compared to other countries, KCNA reported, citing another official.
Pyongyang’s declaration of victory comes despite rolling out no known vaccine program. Instead, the country says it relied on lockdowns, homegrown medicine treatments, and what Kim called the “advantageous Korean-style socialist system.”
The North has said it was running intensive medical checks nationwide, with daily PCR tests on water collected in borderline areas among the measures.
“Even though he was seriously ill with a high fever, he could not lie down for a moment thinking about the people he had to take care of until the end in the face of the anti-epidemic war,” she said in a speech praising his efforts.
On Thursday, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said in a statement it had “strong regrets” over North Korea “repeatedly making groundless claims” about how Covid-19 had arrived in the country.