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Yonhap News Summary

All News 16:59 February 18, 2020

The following is the second summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday.

(4th LD) Coronavirus infections now at 31, S. Korea dealing with more unlinked virus cases

SEOUL -- South Korea's public health authorities warned Tuesday that the country should prepare for more coronavirus infections not linked to known clusters as its latest confirmed cases are believed to be without links to other existing cases or to China and overseas countries.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said the country is entering a "new phase" with some confirmed cases not being linked to existing spreads or clusters, which means that those patients are judged to have contracted the COVID-19 virus without traveling abroad or coming into contact with other infected patients.

(2nd LD) Moon urges 'special' economic policy measures against virus-caused 'emergency situations'

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in ordered his Cabinet on Tuesday to mobilize all available "special" means to handle the "emergency economic situations" attributable to the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.

"Emergency situations require an emergency prescription. The current situation is much more serious than (we) thought," he said in his opening remarks during a weekly Cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae.

(2nd LD) S. Korean presidential plane arrives in Japan to evacuate 5 people from quarantined cruise ship

SEOUL -- A South Korean presidential plane arrived in Japan on Tuesday to evacuate four nationals and a Japanese spouse from a quarantined cruise ship docked near Tokyo, after an increase in onboard infections of the new coronavirus.

The VCN-235 of the Air Force arrived at Japan's Haneda Airport hours after it departed from Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, south of the capital. The plane plans to return to Gimpo International Airport in western Seoul on Wednesday morning.

Asiana Airlines to grant employees unpaid leave amid virus outbreak

SEOUL -- Asiana Airlines Inc., South Korea's second-biggest airline, on Tuesday said all of its employees will take unpaid leave as air travel demand has plummeted due to the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

Some of about 10,500 employees are set to take 10 days of unpaid leave starting Wednesday. Others will join the cost-cutting measure later in a way that does not affect flights.

Seoul to work on South-side sections of railways for cross-border reconnection project

SEOUL -- South Korea will try to repair its own sections of cross-border roads and railways as part of a project to reconnect them across the border, the unification ministry said Tuesday, as the project has remained stalled for more than a year.

South and North Korea agreed to reconnect severed railways and roads between the two Koreas, following up on a summit agreement in 2018, and held an event to mark the launch of the project late in the same year.

(LEAD) Seoul stocks dip 1.5 pct on renewed Sino-American trade tension

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks sank 1.5 percent Tuesday on news that the United States is considering imposing tougher trade restrictions on China. The Korean won sharply lost ground against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 33.29 points, or 1.48 percent, to close at 2,208.88. Trading volume was moderate at 464 million shares worth 6.3 trillion won (US$5.2 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 670 to 180.

Ministry notes 'shared understanding' with China over high-level exchange plans

SEOUL -- South Korea will continue consultations with China over high-level exchanges under the "shared understanding" that they should proceed as planned despite the new coronavirus outbreaks in China, the foreign ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry made the comments amid speculation that the COVID-19 outbreaks could force Chinese President Xi Jinping to delay his plan to travel to South Korea. Seoul and Beijing have been in talks to arrange Xi's trip here in the first half of this year.

N.K. defectors to form first-ever political party ahead of April elections

SEOUL -- North Korean defectors launched a preparatory committee Tuesday to establish the first-ever political party composed of defectors in South Korea, saying the envisioned party will work for democratization of their communist homeland and better protection of defectors' rights.

Around 200 North Korean defectors came together at the meeting in Seoul to announce the launch of the party tentatively named the Inter-Korean Unification Party, less than two months before the April 15 parliamentary elections.

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