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Moon declares 'war' against virus, puts gov't on 24-hour alert

All News 11:40 March 03, 2020

SEOUL, March 3 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in stated Tuesday that South Korea has begun a "war" against COVID-19 as the crisis in Daegu and nearby North Gyeongsang Province peaks, placing all government agencies on a 24-hour full alert.

Speaking at a weekly Cabinet meeting, he announced plans to inject 30 trillion won (US$25 billion) of funds directly or indirectly into the virus response. The meeting was held in combination with a daily session of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters at the government office complex in Seoul.

He said the continuing confirmation of additional cases is "a critical phase" and added the situation has changed completely due to the massive number of infections of followers of a fringe religious group known as Shincheonji.

President Moon Jae-in presides over a Cabinet meeting in Seoul on March 3, 2020. (Yonhap)

His remarks came as health authorities put the total number of those infected with the virus in the nation at 4,812, up 600 from Monday. Most of the cases were reported in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and the neighboring province.

"The crisis in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province reached its peak and the whole country has entered a war against the infectious disease," Moon said.

He ordered all of the government's organizations to shift to a "24-hour emergency situation room system," citing the need to bolster readiness to handle quarantine and economy-related measures.

"The economic situation is grave," he said, adding that the government would spend 30 trillion won on dealing with the crisis, including a planned supplementary budget.

He also apologized deeply to the public for the failure to supply masks quickly and sufficiently. He called on the government to take strong steps to address the problem.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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