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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 13:33 March 13, 2020

The following is the first summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Friday.

(2nd LD) S. Korea steps up efforts against cluster virus infections amid slowing new cases

SEOUL -- South Korea saw another decline in its daily new infections Friday, as massive testings in the southeastern city of Daegu, the epicenter of the new coronavirus here, were nearing an end, but health authorities were ramping up measures to contain cluster infections across the nation.

The 110 new cases of the coronavirus, which were detected Thursday and marked the lowest number of daily infections in more than two weeks, brought the nation's total infections to 7,979.

(3rd LD) Seoul stocks crash to 8 1/2-year low on virus panic selling, Korean won at 4-year low

SEOUL -- South Korea's financial markets were thrown into turmoil on Friday under growing panic sell-offs, with the benchmark stock index plunging over 8 percent to an 8 1/2-year low and the Korean won trading at a 4-year low against the U.S. dollar, as investors rushed to sell risky assets amid growing concerns over economic fallout from the new coronavirus outbreak.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price (KOSPI) Index extended losses to surrender 149.25 points, or 8.14 percent, to 1,685.08 as of 11:10 a.m.

(2nd LD) BOK in discussion over possible emergency meeting for rate cut: official

SEOUL -- South Korea's central bank is now discussing holding an emergency meeting of its monetary policy board, a bank official said Friday, that, if held, would likely lead to a much-anticipated rate cut amid growing signs of economic turmoil caused by the new coronavirus outbreak and a virus-panic rout on the financial market.

"Discussions are now being held among monetary policy board members on the need for an emergency board meeting," the BOK official told reporters, while speaking on condition of anonymity.

(LEAD) Gov't preparing to declare virus-stricken Daegu a special disaster zone: PM

SEOUL -- The South Korean government is preparing to designate Daegu and nearby North Gyeongsang Province, hard hit by massive coronavirus infections, as "special disaster zones" in a bid to facilitate emergency relief and administrative and financial support, according to Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Friday.

"Procedures are under way in relation to the declaration" of Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and the province as special diaster zones," he said at an interagency meeting on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic that was held in the city.

126 countries, territories restricting entry from coronavirus-hit S. Korea

SEOUL -- A total of 126 countries and territories were imposing an entry ban or tougher quarantine procedures for people from South Korea over coronavirus fears Friday, up by three from the previous day, the foreign ministry said.

As of 9 a.m., 50 countries and territories were barring the entry of travelers who have been in Korea at least in the past two weeks, joined by Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Sudan.

N. Korea may be ready to test more advanced ICBM: U.S. general

WASHINGTON -- North Korea's recent engine testing suggests the regime may be ready to test a more advanced intercontinental ballistic missile that could pose a greater threat to the United States, a U.S. general said Thursday.

Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, offered the assessment in a written statement to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces ahead of a hearing on fiscal year 2021 priorities for missile defense and missile defeat programs.

N.K. leader attends artillery fire competition

SEOUL -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un guided an artillery fire competition, stressing that modern warfare is the "warfare of artillery pieces," state media reported Friday.

His attendance in the fire competition held Thursday came after the North test-fired three projectiles off its east coast Monday, the second weapons test that the communist state had carried out this month.

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