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Moon urges all-out efforts to minimize virus impact, reinvigorate economy

All News 14:41 February 17, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 17 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in instructed his economy team Monday to take speedy and thorough measures to minimize the effects of the coronavirus outbreak and create "tangible changes" in the overall economy and people's livelihoods this year.

He warned of the possibility that the slump in South Korea's economy will be prolonged, saying economic damage from the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic is worse than that resulting from MERS in 2015.

If that is the case, it would wreak havoc not just on the economy of Asia's fourth-biggest economy but also on people's lives, Moon stressed, speaking at the outset of a Cheong Wa Dae session to receive briefings on key policy plans for this year from four economy-related ministries.

"Literally, it's an emergency and a grave situation," he said in remarks that were broadcast live.

President Moon Jae-in (C) speaks at a Cheong Wa Dae session on this year's economic policy on Feb. 17, 2020. (Yonhap)

South Korea's economy has suffered, he pointed out, as domestic consumption and people's leisure activities have diminished due to "overblown fear and anxiety" over the novel coronavirus, which originated in China.

"It is time to focus all-out efforts on revitalizing the economy, while maintaining the people's safety," the president stressed. "The government will remain vigilant and do its best in terms of quarantine steps until the end."

He asked the public to trust the government's quarantine measures and resume their routine daily activities.

His call apparently reflects the government's confidence that it can contain the virus in the near future. A total of 30 confirmed cases have been reported, with no deaths. Several patients have been declared fully cured, while the remainder are hospitalized and in a relatively stable condition.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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