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(LEAD) U.S. Amb. Harris 'very impressed' by S. Korea's fight against COVID-19

All News 16:05 March 04, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead, photo; UPDATES throughout)
By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, March 4 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris said Wednesday that he was "very impressed" by Seoul's efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, as the two countries step up coordination in combating the epidemic.

Harris made the remarks during a meeting with Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young amid rising concerns that the United States could toughen quarantine measures against South Korean visitors as the Asian country has logged a total of 5,328 confirmed cases and 32 deaths.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he is watching the coronavirus outbreak in Korea "very closely," and that his government will make the "right determination at the right time."

"I think it's indicative of the fact that Korea's leading in the global fight," Harris said after Cho expressed his appreciation for making a "fair case" in Washington for Seoul's containment efforts.

South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young and U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris hold talks at the foreign ministry in Seoul on March 4, 2020. (Yonhap)

"We're very impressed with all that Korea's doing. Comprehensive measures, the tests, and take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19," the U.S. ambassador added.

Harris recently attended a global conference in Washington of the chiefs of U.S. diplomatic missions.

Cho pointed out that during Harris' absence in Korea, there has been a spike in coronavirus cases, while calling for joint efforts to handle the public health emergency.

"Sure. I think coordination between our two countries is very important and is, you know, causing good results," Harris said in turn.

At the meeting, Cho was expected to reiterate South Korea's all-out efforts to contain the epidemic, particularly its sweeping diagnostic program that has led to a recent rise in the number of reported infections.

As of Tuesday, the U.S. had reported more than 100 infections and nine deaths connected to the novel virus.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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