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Moon: virus spread in local communities 'very severe'

All News 11:54 February 21, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in said Friday that South Korea's fight against COVID-19 has entered a "very severe" situation but that his government will make every effort to ensure there are no loopholes in quarantine measures and to minimize the economic effects of the epidemic.

He asked people to cooperate in undergoing early medical tests and treatment in case of symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

"It's a very severe situation," the president stated during his visit to a market for small and medium-sized firms' products in western Seoul.

He cited the rapid spread of the outbreak locally.

Dozens of new confirmed cases have been reported in Daegu, a three-hour drive southeast from Seoul, and nearby towns.

The number of those infected with COVID-19 totals more than 150. The virus has even infiltrated into the barracks of a few military units south of Seoul, according to official reports.

"The government is significantly strengthening its infection response system in local communities," Moon stressed.

He added that his administration is keeping the state alert level at "watch" but is taking relevant quarantine steps on par with that of the "serious" level.

Moon again emphasized that it's necessary to "overcome excessive anxiety" but toned down his call for the public to continue routines and daily activities.

"Such things are easier said than done," Moon pointed out.

He reaffirmed the government's resolve, nonetheless, to catch the "two hares" of containing the virus and revitalizing the economy.

"We can't afford to lose any," he said. "The government will map out unprecedented special measures, mobilizing every available means."

The first package of measures, including financial, tax, budget and regulatory reform measures, will be announced before the end of February, according to Moon.

Earlier in the day, he received an emergency briefing on the country's handling of the virus outbreak from Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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