North Korea Lifts Mask Mandate After ‘Victory’ Over COVID-19

North Korea lifted its mask mandate and other COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday, two days after leader Kim Jong Un declared victory over COVID-19. 

“The step for obligatory mask-wearing was lifted in all areas except frontline areas and borderline cities and counties,” state media Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported

According to KCNA, the state would “switch from top-level emergency anti-epidemic system to normal epidemic prevention work system” since the outbreak “was completely defused and its whole territory was turned into a clean one free from the malignant virus in the shortest period.” 

The announcement came after Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, accused Seoul early this week of causing the outbreak of COVID-19 in the North and warned of “deadly retaliation.”  

KNCA also said social distancing was also lifted, except in border regions. 

Previously, North Korea reported about 4.8 million “fever” cases but identified only a fraction of those as COVID-19, with 74 recorded deaths. 

The World Health Organization questioned North Korea’s statistics and its claim of bringing the outbreak under control, while experts said the North has one of the world’s worst healthcare systems.  

Earlier this week, Kim Jong Un declared a “shining victory” over COVID-19 after announcing its first cases in May. 

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