(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks from N.K. leader's sister, more details in last 4 paras)
SEOUL, Aug. 11 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has declared victory over his country's emergency campaign against COVID-19, state media reported Thursday.
Kim made the announcement during a national meeting on anti-epidemic measures he presided over the previous day, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
He "solemnly declared the victory in the maximum emergency anti-epidemic campaign for exterminating the novel coronavirus that had made inroads into our territory and protecting the lives and health of the people," it said in an English-language article.
Kim Yo-jong, the leader's younger sister who serves as vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), accused the South of introducing the virus into the North and warned of retaliation.
"Athough many response measures are being considered, a strong retaliatory response should be made," she was quoted as saying by the KCNA in a separate article. "If the enemy continues to make dangerous acts that could introduce the virus into our republic, we will respond by eradicating not only the virus, but also the South Korean authorities."
Pyongyang announced its first COVID-19 case on May 12 after claiming to be coronavirus-free for over two years and implemented nationwide lockdowns. The North's daily fever tally hit zero on 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.
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