(LEAD) Moon urges people to harbor hope in fight against coronavirus amid pandemic declaration
(ATTN: UPDATES with Moon's visit to treatment facility in last 4 paras, minor edits througout; CHANGES photo)
SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in called on people not to lose hope in South Korea's battle against the new coronavirus Thursday after the U.N. health agency declared the virus outbreak a pandemic.
"This cannot help being a big threat to us at a time when domestically we've contained the blaze of COVID-19 and sought to curb the further spread," Moon wrote on social media. "(The global spread of the virus) could deal an unspeakable blow to the global economy and the Korean economy."
The World Health Organization declared Wednesday that the virus crisis is now a pandemic, as the numbers of confirmed cases are swelling across the globe.
Moon stressed what South Korea needs at this juncture is to harbor hope.
"We need the virus of 'hope' that will overwhelm COVID-19. We should also contain the virus of 'anxiety' that runs rampant like COVID-19," he said.
Moon encouraged health officials and medical workers fighting the virus and also cautioned that the outbreak may take time to be fully contained.
Later on Thursday, Moon visited a facility in the central city of Cheonan providing medical treatment to 308 infected patients from Daegu.
Daegu, about 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, has been the heart of South Korea's coronavirus outbreak, with the number of patients in the city skyrocketing due to a cluster of infections centered on the Shincheonji religious sect.
The president expressed gratitude to the medical staff for their work and vowed government efforts to support their services, according to his spokesperson, Kang Min-seok.
It was Moon's second visit to a facility treating virus patients in less than two weeks, following his visit to a military hospital in Daejeon last week.
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