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Yonhap News Summary

All News 17:03 March 04, 2020

The following is the second summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday.

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(LEAD) 94 countries, territories restricting entry from S. Korea over coronavirus concerns

SEOUL -- A total of 94 countries and territories were imposing entry restrictions or stricter quarantine procedures on people from South Korea over coronavirus concerns, Seoul's foreign ministry said Wednesday.

As of 2 p.m., 33 countries and territories imposed an outright entry ban for travelers who have visited Korea in the past two weeks, according to the ministry website.

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Gov't's new guideline advising face mask reuse sparks row amid coronavirus spread

SEOUL -- South Korea's revision of a guideline that temporarily advises the reuse of face masks to fight against the new coronavirus has caused a public uproar as the move runs counter to the recommendation by the U.N. health agency.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety unveiled a revised guideline on using face masks allowing for the reuse of cotton or disposable face masks on a temporary basis.

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(LEAD) BOK chief strongly hints at rate cut following U.S.'s unexpected move

SEOUL -- South Korea's central bank chief on Wednesday strongly hinted at a possible rate reduction down the road, hours after the U.S. Federal Reserve delivered an unexpected rate reduction to deal with the spread of the new coronavirus in the world's largest economy.

"As the result of the steps taken by the U.S. Fed, the United States' policy rate (1.0 percent-1.25 percent) has been lowered to a level similar to that of the country's policy rate (at 1.25 percent)," Bank of Korea (BOK) Gov. Lee Ju-yeol said in an emergency meeting with BOK officials to review the impact of the U.S. rate decision.

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(4th LD) S. Korea's virus cases top 5,300, $9.8 bln stimulus package unveiled to battle virus

SEOUL -- South Korea's coronavirus caseload rose above 5,300 on Wednesday, with the outbreak in the southeastern city of Daegu, the hotspot here, showing little sign of a slowdown. The country unveiled an extra budget of 11.7 trillion won (US$9.8 billion) to help fight the virus and mitigate the economic fallout.

The 516 new cases, identified on Tuesday, brought the nation's total number of infections to 5,328, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

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S. Korea vows 'stern' measures against volatility following U.S. rate cut

SEOUL -- South Korea's financial authorities on Wednesday said they will take steps to stabilize the local market if necessary, hours after the U.S. Federal Reserve delivered an unexpected rate cut in its first emergency move in more than a decade in light of the new coronavirus outbreak.

"(The government) will take stern measures under its contingency plan in case market volatility unusually increases, while closely monitoring market conditions in close cooperation with other related agencies," Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom said in an emergency meeting attended by officials from various financial institutions, including the Bank of Korea (BOK), the Financial Services Commission and the Financial Supervisory Service.

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Airlines suspend more flights amid coronavirus fears

SEOUL -- South Korea's two full-service carriers said Wednesday that they will temporarily suspend or reduce most of their flights to the United States and Europe due to declining air travel demand amid the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

The move comes as an increasing number of people opt not to travel amid virus fears and as the number of countries and regions restricting entry from coronavirus-hit South Korea has exceeded 90.

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Online sales of masks, sanitizers soar in Jan. on virus

SEJONG -- Online sales of face masks and hand sanitizers spiked in January due to the new coronavirus outbreak, despite a slowdown in overall online shopping, government data showed Wednesday.

Purchases of face masks and other miscellaneous items made via computers, smartphones and tablets soared 57 percent on-year to 443 billion won (US$373 million) in January, according to the data from Statistics Korea.

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