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(LEAD) Delivery workers call for safety measures against virus

Retail/Tourism 17:55 February 27, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES last para with latest figures)
By Lee Minji

SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Yonhap) -- Delivery workers on Thursday called for heightened safety measures as demand for online shipping and food deliveries are surging in line with the spreading new coronavirus.

"Delivery workers who meet customers every day and work outdoors face a risky situation, but measures by companies and the government are not (strong) enough (to protect them). It's quite worrying since we don't know how much the virus will spread," Koo Kyo-hyun, an official at Riders Union, an organization that represents delivery workers, said in a press briefing.

In the event that was livestreamed on YouTube, delivery workers across the country highlighted the need for support measures, claiming that longer working hours and direct contact with customers poses bigger risks for them.

A delivery worker in the country's southern port city of Busan speaks during a press briefing by Riders Union that was livestreamed on Feb. 27, 2020. (Yonhap)

"At times like this, all deliveries should be prepaid so that delivery workers and customers don't have to talk to each other and products can be placed in front of customers' doors," said a delivery worker in the southern port city of Busan.

"Since delivery workers come in contact with a lot of people, there's the risk of them becoming dangerous spreaders when they become infected," the delivery worker said.

The union called for companies to expand non-direct deliveries to prevent workers from directly coming in contact with customers and to provide safety products, such as masks, to the workers.

People are increasingly ordering groceries online and turning to food deliveries on growing fears over the country's rapidly surging COVID-19 infections.

South Korea has reported more than 1,700 cases of the new coronavirus as of Thursday afternoon, adding over 500 cases from a day earlier. It marks the sharpest daily increase since the country first reported an infection on Jan. 20.


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