North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has declared victory over COVID-19, while his sister has admitted he suffered "a fever" during the outbreak.
Since North Korea acknowledged an Omicron outbreak of the virus had occurred in May, it has reported about 4.8 million "fever cases" in its population of 26 million - but only identified a fraction of them as COVID-19.
It has claimed the outbreak has been slowing for weeks and just 74 people have died.
It is reported Kim has now ordered preventive measures be eased - just three months after acknowledging there were some cases.
The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Thursday that Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, said her brother had suffered "a fever" and blamed the North Korean outbreak on leaflets flown across the border from South Korea.
South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, issued a statement expressing strong regret over the North's "extremely disrespectful and threatening comments" that were based on "ridiculous claims" about the source of its infections.
According to KCNA, in a speech to the nation, Kim said: "Since we began operating the maximum emergency anti-epidemic campaign (in May), daily fever cases that reached hundreds of thousands during the early days of the outbreak were reduced to below 90,000 a month later and continuously decreased, and not a single case of fever suspected to be linked to the evil virus has been reported since 29 July."
"For a country that has yet to administer a single vaccine shot, our success in overcoming the spread of the illness in such a short period of time and recovering safety in public health and making our nation a clean virus-free zone again is an amazing miracle that would be recorded in the world's history of public health," he added.
During Wednesday's meeting, Kim Yo Jong called the country's virus crisis a "hysteric farce" kicked off by South Korea to escalate confrontation.
She claimed her brother had suffered fever symptoms and praised his "energetic and meticulous guidance" for bringing an "epoch-making miracle" in the fight against COVID-19.
"(South Korean) puppets are still thrusting leaflets and dirty objects into our territory. We must counter it toughly," she said.
"We have already considered various counteraction plans, but our countermeasure must be a deadly retaliatory one."