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N. Korea moves toward pre-pandemic normalcy after declaring victory in COVID-19 fight

Aug. 13, 2022 - 12:33 By Yonhap
This photo, released by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Aug. 11, 2022, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un making a speech to declare victory in the country‘s fight against COVID-19 during a national meeting on anti-epidemic measures in Pyongyang held the previous day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korea has lifted a face mask mandate and eased antivirus curbs as the communist state moves toward normalcy after declaring victory in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, state media reported Saturday.

Earlier this week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared victory in his country‘s emergency campaign against COVID-19, three months after the nation first reported the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a face mask mandate and other antivirus restrictions were lifted across the country, except “frontline areas and borderline cities and counties.”

But mask-wearing is recommended in case of respiratory disease symptoms, such as the flu, according to the KCNA.

Pyongyang announced its first COVID-19 case May 12 after claiming to be coronavirus-free for over two years and implemented nationwide lockdowns.

The North’s daily fever tally has remained at zero since July 29 after peaking at over 392,920 on May 15

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

The North‘s latest declaration comes just before South Korea and the United States kick off the Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) exercise on Aug. 22 amid concerns that Pyongyang could dial up regional tensions with military provocations. (Yonhap)