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(LEAD) Gov't orders scheduled remote working for public servants

Politics 20:02 March 12, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, revised infection numbers in paras 8-11)

SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- In its latest efforts to fight the new coronavirus, South Korea on Thursday introduced a flexible working scheme, including adjustable hours and remote working, for public servants.

Under the guidelines, public servants across the country are expected to take turns working remotely, either at home or at so-called smart work centers run by the government, according to the document distributed to 50 government organizations by the Ministry of Personnel Management.

The heads of each organization will decide on the numbers of those working remotely, while manager-level public servants will continue to work from their offices as usual.

The guidance, aimed at reducing office density and face-to-face contact, advises those working in offices to vary their commuting and lunch schedules.

It mandates that each team designates an employee to check whether there are team members with COVID-19 symptoms twice a day.

The guidelines also seek to minimize face-to-face meetings and expand online meetings.

The new rules, the strongest regarding government personnel, come amid concerns that more public servants could be affected by the contagious virus, which has infected 7,869 people in the country.

As of Thursday, 23 public servants, including 13 at the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, working at the country's main government complex in Sejong have tested positive.

The oceans ministry said that it will test all 570 employees who work from its Sejong office to prevent further spread of the illness. All buildings occupied by the ministry have been disinfected, and the office used by those infected was temporarily closed as a safety measure.

The education ministry and the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs have each confirmed one case and said employees were told to stay home and not to report to work. The education ministry said 100 employees have been told to remain in quarantine, with the veterans affairs ministry asking 20 employees who may have been exposed to remain at home.

South Korea has 11 government complexes, including the main complex in Sejong, 130 kilometers south of Seoul, as well as in major cities such as Seoul and Daejeon.

Related to the outbreak among government officials, Sejong City said that it will move to check all workers at the complex as a precautionary move.

This undated file photo shows people walking into the main government complex in Sejong, 130 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

This undated file photo shows people walking into the main government complex in Sejong, 130 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)


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