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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 17:06 March 16, 2020

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

BOK trims rate to record low of 0.75 pct to support economy amid virus outbreak

SEOUL -- The Bank of Korea (BOK) delivered an unexpected rate cut to a record low on Monday to help buffer economic fallout from the new coronavirus outbreak, hours after the U.S. Federal Reserve slashed the key rate to a zero level.

In a hastily organized rate-setting meeting, the BOK slashed the key rate by a half percentage point to 0.75 percent.

(LEAD) Moon says Seoul, nearby areas in critical fight against virus, vows no let-up in quarantine

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in said Monday that South Korea is facing an all-important round of battle against the spread of the novel coronavirus in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province, and stressed the government won't let up on efforts to contain the virus.

Daegu, a city located 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and nearby North Gyeongsang Province saw steady reductions in the number of patients over the past few days. But several cases of massive infections were confirmed in the Seoul capital area, with a population of around 25 million, particularly centered on a call center, an internet cafe, a church and a hospital, Moon noted.

7-8 countries grant S. Korean businesspeople exceptions to entry curbs: official

SEOUL -- Seven to eight countries have granted exceptions to their coronavirus entry restrictions and allowed South Korean businesspeople to come in on a case-by-base basis, a foreign ministry official said Monday.

South Korea has been in talks with about 20 countries to persuade them to allow the entry of businesspeople with no risk of coronavirus infection, as many companies have been struggling to keep up with their overseas businesses at a time when 140 countries and territories are restricting arrivals from Korea.

Hyundai Heavy to stage partial strike for higher pay

SEOUL -- Unionized workers at Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. will enter a partial strike on Friday as they have yet to seal a wage deal for the year of 2019, the union said Monday.

Hyundai Heavy and its union have held 46 rounds of negotiations from May 2 last year through March 12 to narrow their differences over wages and the standards for bonuses.

(LEAD) Seoul stocks again nose-dive as virus fear overwhelms U.S. rate cut

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks extended their losses to a fourth consecutive session Monday as investors braced for a bigger-than-expected and drawn-out economic fallout from the global spread of the new coronavirus despite the U.S. Federal Reserve's unexpected rate cut. The Korean won closed at a four-year low against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 56.58 points, or 3.19 percent, to close at 1,714.86, the lowest figure since it posted 1,710.32 on Oct. 6, 2011.

Virus test kits very reliable, accurate: health authorities

SEOUL -- South Korean test kits used to check novel coronavirus infections are very accurate and reliable, the country's health authorities said Monday, dismissing allegations about their reliability by a U.S. lawmaker.

The health ministry said the country currently uses five testing kits based on real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay methods to check whether a person is infected with the new strain of virus that has spread throughout the world.

BTS' N. American concerts at risk of cancellation amid virus spread in U.S.

SEOUL -- Having canceled the inaugural Seoul leg of its new world concert tour series, "Map of the Soul Tour," K-pop boy band BTS is at risk of having part of the following American leg rolled back amid the ongoing coronavirus spread in the United States.

The septet was to kick off the new world tour series in mid-April in Seoul with four concerts at Olympic Stadium. But the band's management agency, Big Hit Entertainment, canceled the inaugural Seoul leg in late February when COVID-19 showed no signs of slowing its spread in South Korea.

Nearly 50 percent of S. Koreans support proposal for cash provision over coronavirus

SEOUL -- Nearly 50 percent of South Koreans support a proposal to provide cash to citizens to help them tackle the economic fallout of the new coronavirus, a poll showed Monday.

In the survey by Realmeter on 505 people, 48.6 percent of the respondents favored the idea that the government temporarily adopt "anti-disaster basic income."

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