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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:30 February 21, 2020

The following is the first summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Friday.

(3rd LD) S. Korea steps up containment efforts as virus cases jump to 156

SEOUL -- South Korea said Friday the new coronavirus is spreading across the country, but it is in the initial stage of a full-blown outbreak and still "manageable," although the number of infections has almost tripled in just three days.

The country reported 52 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing its total number of infections to 156, the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

(2nd LD) S. Korea reports first coronavirus cases among service members

SEOUL/JEJU -- A number of coronavirus cases were confirmed among military personnel for the first time Friday, including an Air Force officer at the Gyeryongdae military headquarters, sending officials scrambling to stop the virus from spreading further into the barracks.

Three cases were confirmed, one each in the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. They are the first COVID-19 cases among service members since South Korea reported its first case last month.

(LEAD) IFRC requests sanctions waiver for plan to help N. Korea's fight against coronavirus

SEOUL -- The International Red Cross has asked the United Nations to grant temporary sanctions exemptions for its efforts to help North Korea's fight against the new coronavirus, a U.S. broadcaster said Friday.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) made the request, Richard Blewitt, the organization's permanent observer at the U.N., was quoted as saying to Radio Free Asia.

Airlines to suspend more flights over coronavirus

SEOUL -- South Korean airlines said Friday they will reduce more routes and ask employees to take unpaid leave as the spread of the novel coronavirus is impacting travel.

With no clear end in sight for the COVID-19 outbreak, local airlines began to suspend or reduce their flights early this month to adjust to weak demand on domestic and international routes.

Seoul city to ban rallies, Shincheonji church services to curb virus

SEOUL -- As part of drastic measures to curb the sprawling new coronavirus, the Seoul city government on Friday said it will be banning rallies and closing down Shincheonji church services.

"We plan to ban use of Seoul plaza, Cheonggye plaza and Gwanghwamun plaza to protect the elderly who are susceptible to contagious diseases," Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said in a press briefing Friday, referring to places where massive weekend rallies take place.

USFK limits soldiers' Daegu-related travel, several locations off-limits

SEOUL -- U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) has limited all service members' non-essential travel to, from and around South Korea's southeastern city of Daegu, and banned visits to several locations in the city to mitigate the risk of coronavirus infection among its population.

The measures came as the number of confirmed COVID-19 virus cases has surged sharply in Daegu and its surrounding North Gyeongsang Province since Wednesday. As of early Friday, the total number of confirmed cases in South Korea stood at 156, including one death, and more than half of them happened in the Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province regions.

New BTS album 'Map of the Soul: 7' set to rock global music scene

SEOUL -- K-pop phenomenon BTS will drop a new album, "Map of the Soul: 7," Friday evening, rocking the world music scene once again.

The upcoming 20-track album is the second part of its "Map of the Soul" album series, following "Map of the Soul: Persona," released in April last year.

Bolton makes no apology for hardline stance on N. Korea: report

WASHINGTON -- Former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton has stood by his hardline stance on North Korea, saying softer positions have failed to make the regime give up its nuclear weapons program.

In an interview this week with The Vanderbilt Hustler, the official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University, Bolton also defended his suggestions that North Korea follow the "Libya model" and hand over its nuclear program before receiving any concessions in return.

Seoul stocks extend losses late Friday morning on virus woes

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks extended losses late Friday morning amid rising concerns over the fast spreading novel coronavirus in the country.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 25.94 points, or 1.18 percent, to 2,169.56 as of 11:20 a.m.

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