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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 13:30 March 23, 2020

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

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(2nd LD) Rise in new virus cases slowest since late Feb., strict quarantine in store for arrivals from Europe

SEOUL -- South Korea reported its lowest daily figure for new coronavirus infections since late last month on Monday, as the nation ramped up social distancing rules to slow the virus pandemic.

The 64 new cases, which were detected Sunday, brought the nation's total infections to 8,961, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). The daily infections stayed below 100 cases for the second straight day, and Sunday's additional cases marked the lowest since peaking at 909 on Feb. 29.

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(LEAD) Seoul stocks plunge over 5 pct late Monday morning

SEOUL -- South Korean stock markets were again thrown into turmoil, with the benchmark index falling over 5 percent late Monday morning amid growing concerns over economic fallout from the novel coronavirus. The Korean won also sharply lost ground against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price (KOSPI) Index surrendered 79.07 points, or 5.05 percent, to 1,487,08 as of 11:20 a.m.

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(LEAD) S. Korea to take legal actions against churches violating coronavirus guidelines

SEOUL -- South Korea will take legal action against several Protestant churches for violating the government's guidelines for preventing the massive spread of the new coronavirus, the prime minister said Monday.

As part of the government's drive for stricter social distancing, health authorities advised churches to follow quarantine measures, including keeping the distance between followers at least 2 meters while attending services and having their temperature checked.

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S. Korea to unveil measures to stabilize markets this week

SEOUL -- South Korea's financial authorities are expected to announce a set of measures this week to help stabilize financial markets roiled by the spread of the new coronavirus, industry sources said Monday.

The measures include a bond market stabilization fund worth more than 10 trillion won (US$7.94 billion), according to officials.

Last week, Financial Services Commission chief Eun Sung-soo decided to create the bond market stabilization fund during a meeting with the heads of eight banks and other relevant officials.

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(2nd LD) Korea's exports up 10 pct in first 20 days of March amid virus woes

SEOUL -- South Korea's exports moved up 10 percent in the first 20 days of March from a year earlier despite the new coronavirus pandemic, customs data showed Monday, led mostly by improved shipments of chips and automobiles, along with increased working days.

The country's outbound shipments came to US$30.7 billion in the March 1-20 period, rising from $27.9 billion in the same period a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

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(LEAD) S. Korean stock trading halted after sharp plunge

SEOUL -- The Korea Exchange temporarily suspended stock trading Monday as the country's two markets dipped sharply amid rising fears over the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

A five-minute trading halt was issued on the main bourse at 9:06 a.m. after the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) plunged by more than 5 percent after the opening bell.

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Despite uncertainty over Tokyo, S. Korean Olympic hopefuls trying to stay focused

SEOUL -- For world class athletes, staying mentally sharp in the year of the Olympics wouldn't normally be that difficult.

But South Korean judo ace Cho Gu-ham says trying to keep his focus on the mat has been particularly difficult this year, as he prepares for his first legitimate shot at Olympic glory.

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Ministry emphasizes inter-Korean anti-virus cooperation following Trump's offer to help N. Korea

SEOUL -- South and North Korea should work together in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus from the perspective of "humanitarian" and "mutually beneficial" cooperation, Seoul's unification ministry said Monday.

The emphasis on cross-border cooperation came a day after North Korea announced that U.S. President Donald Trump expressed an intention to help its fight against the coronavirus in a personal letter to leader Kim Jong-un.

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