North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has declared victory over COVID-19, the regime having reported zero cases over the past couple of weeks.
It's a claim that's considered highly doubtful.
His sister Kim Yo-jong also spoke at the meeting, and she blamed South Korea for the virus having made its way into the North.
Our unification correspondent Han Seong-woo has more.
Three months after admitting his regime had an outbreak, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has declared victory against COVID-19.
"On behalf of the Party's Central Committee and the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, I solemnly declare victory in the maximum emergency anti-epidemic campaign to exterminate the novel coronavirus that had made inroads into our territory and in protecting the lives and health of the people."
According to the Korean Central News Agency, Kim also announced at a mass meeting on antivirus measures Wednesday that the regime would lower its so-called "maximum virus prevention system" back to a normal level but cautioned against complacency, saying that the global health crisis is still ongoing in neighboring countries and that it's too early to completely lift curbs including border lockdowns.
In a surprise move, his sister Kim Yo-jong also spoke during the meeting and blamed the spread of the virus in the North on "alien objects" and anti-Pyeongyang leaflets flown in on balloons from activists in South Korea. Calling them "crimes against humanity," she warned of intense retaliations.
"If the enemy persists with such dangerous deeds like providing inroads for the virus into our Republic, we will respond to it by not only exterminating the virus but also wiping out the South Korean authorities."
South Korea's Defense Ministry responded to Kim's words by saying it will keep an eye out for "various possibilities" while the Unification Ministry expressed "deep regret."
"We express deep regret over the very rude, threatening remarks made by the North and its unreasonable assertions regarding how the virus entered the regime."" ."
Kim Yo-jong also mentioned her brother had suffered from fever symptoms, saying that even though the leader was "seriously ill with a high fever," he "could not lie down for a moment" because of "the people he had to take care of" suggesting the leader may have been infected with the virus at one point.
This was the first time a speech made by Kim Yo-jong on an official platform had been made public on state media.
Pyeongyang's declaration of victory comes amid an extremely low fatality rate of 74 reported deaths despite no known vaccine rollout leading observers to widely question its validity.
Han Seong-woo, Arirang News.