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(LEAD) Moon orders diplomatic consultations over special entry for Korean businesspeople

All News 14:13 March 10, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more details in last 4 paras; UPDATES with minor edits throughout)

SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in ordered officials Tuesday to seek diplomatic consultations with countries imposing entry bans on South Koreans amid coronavirus concerns over ways to permit Korean businesspeople with health documents to be granted exceptions for entrance.

Possession of a health condition report would mean the person had tested negative for COVID-19, according to an official at Cheong Wa Dae, the presidential office.

The instruction came as a series of entry bans on people from South Korea makes it difficult for the country's people to travel for business, potentially shrinking economic activities.

A total of 109 countries and territories were imposing entry bans or tougher quarantine procedures for people from South Korea over the spread of the new coronavirus on Tuesday.

When asked if Japan is included in a list of countries with which Seoul will seek diplomatic consultations, Cheong Wa Dae said, "It is difficult to specifically mention what countries would be (included)."

The government halted a visa-free entry program for Japan among other countermeasures on Monday in response to Tokyo's decision to impose new entry restrictions for South Korean visitors over the coronavirus.

Moon said he respects other countries' stepped-up quarantine procedures, including entry bans.

But citing the slowing growth of new infections here, he said they may permit an exception for South Koreans on urgent business, according to the official.

The daily number of new virus cases here slowed to a two-week low Tuesday, bringing the total number of infections to 7,513.

When asked whether Seoul is considering entry restrictions for Italy, the presidential official hinted that it has no plan to do so.

This file photo shows President Moon Jae-in (back). (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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