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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:37 March 03, 2020

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

(2nd LD) S. Korea's virus cases top 4,800; President Moon declares war on virus

SEOUL -- South Korea's coronavirus caseload rose above 4,800 on Tuesday, with an alarming cluster of infections continuing to swell in the southeastern city of Daegu. President Moon Jae-in declared a "war" on the fast-spreading virus.

The 600 new cases were detected on Monday alone, bringing the total number of infections here to 4,812, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

Monday's additional cases followed the nation's sharpest daily spikes of 1,062 as of end-Sunday and 813 as of end-Saturday.

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

SEOUL -- 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."

(LEAD) Surviving victims of sexual slavery by Japan reduced to 18

SEOUL -- A South Korean woman forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops during World War II died this week, a civic group said Tuesday, bringing down the number of surviving victims to 18.

The woman, identified only as Lee, died Monday at the age of 92 at her home in Daegu, about 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, according to the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan.

Lee was born in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, in 1928 before being taken to China and forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops at the age of 17. Japan ruled the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45.

(2nd LD) N. Korea says leader Kim inspected long-range artillery strike drill

SEOUL -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw a long-range artillery firing drill, state media said Tuesday, a day after South Korea said the communist nation fired what appeared to be two ballistic missiles.

The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday that the North fired two projectiles believed to be short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast in the first such launches since Pyongyang warned early this year it will show off a "new strategic weapon."

Pyongyang's state media said Tuesday that Kim oversaw a "firepower strike drill" by long-range artillery units.

(2nd LD) Korea's Q4 economic expansion faster than expected, annual growth unchanged

SEOUL -- South Korea's economy grew slightly faster than expected in the fourth quarter of 2019, although this had no effect on the overall economic expansion for last year, central bank data showed Tuesday.

Asia's fourth-largest economy grew 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter from three months earlier, 0.1 percentage point higher than earlier expected, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The country's annual growth, however, remained unchanged at 2 percent.

Asian football body on verge of postponing World Cup qualifiers due to coronavirus

SEOUL -- The Asian football governing body has inched closer to postponing World Cup qualifying matches following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said Tuesday it has had preliminary discussions with some East Zone member associations regarding fixtures for the 2022 FIFA World Cup regional qualifiers. The East Zone nations include South Korea, China, Japan and Australia.

(LEAD) S. Korean airports begin coronavirus screenings on U.S.-bound travelers

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that all airports in South Korea have begun coronavirus screenings on travelers taking direct flights to the United States.

Pence said the screenings began "three hours ago" and involve multiple temperature checks on the passengers before they board. He spoke during a White House briefing to provide an update on the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak.

(LEAD) Korea's consumer prices up 1.1 pct on-year in Feb.

SEOUL -- South Korea's headline inflation rose 1.1 percent in February from a year earlier, marking an increase of over 1 percent for the second straight month, the statistics agency said Tuesday.

The inflation rate in Asia's fourth-largest economy increased 1.5 percent in January, the highest in 14 months, Statistics Korea said.

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