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Yonhap News Summary

All News 17:12 April 01, 2020

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

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(4th LD) New infections again on slide, but cluster, imported cases still on rise

SEOUL -- South Korea saw a slight decline in new coronavirus cases Wednesday, but cluster infections in Seoul and the surrounding area and imported cases continued to emerge.

The 101 new cases of COVID-19, detected Tuesday and down from 125 new cases a day earlier, brought the country's total cases to 9,887 and marked the 20th consecutive day that new infections have hovered around 100 or fewer additional cases, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

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(3rd LD) USFK begins indefinite furloughs for Korean employees over stalled cost-sharing talks

SEOUL -- Thousands of South Koreans working for the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) were furloughed indefinitely starting Wednesday amid a deadlock in defense cost-sharing negotiations between the two countries, sparking concerns over the possible impact on Korea's readiness posture.

The furloughs have also drawn criticism that Washington is risking the livelihoods of South Koreans who have worked many years for the USFK for the sake of its own financial interests and to pressure its ally in the defense cost talks.

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S. Korea voices regret over furloughs for USFK workers, vows supportive measures

SEOUL -- South Korea expressed regret Wednesday after U.S. Forces Korea put thousands of South Korean employees on indefinite furloughs, vowing to come up with diverse measures, including extending loans, to help support the workers.

About 4,500-5,000 employees were forced to go on unpaid leave starting Wednesday as Seoul and Washington have failed to work out a new Special Measures Agreement (SMA) that covers wages of South Korean employees and other costs of the upkeep of about 28,500 U.S. troops stationed here.

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S. Korean chartered plane returns with some 300 nationals from virus-hit Italy

SEOUL -- A South Korean government-chartered plane with 309 citizens on board returned from coronavirus-hit Italy on Wednesday, amid the worsening virus outbreak in the European country.

The Korean Air flight from Milan landed at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, at about 2:30 p.m. It was the first of the two flights the government has sent to airlift citizens stranded in Italy, a country under nationwide lockdown due to the virus spread.

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(2nd LD) S. Korea begins overseas voting for April 15 general elections amid coronavirus outbreak

SEOUL -- South Korea kicked off six days of overseas elections for the April parliamentary polls Wednesday, with only about half the eligible voters being allowed to cast ballots due to the new coronavirus.

About 86,000 eligible voters in 66 countries and territories were to cast their absentee ballots for the April 15 elections until Monday, according to the National Election Commission (NEC) and Seoul's foreign ministry.

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(LEAD) Strict social distancing should go further: health authorities

SEOUL -- Despite growing fatigue among citizens over a prolonged social distancing campaign, South Korea needs to further extend its nationwide drive, rather than loosening it up, as there are still risks from new cases steadily popping up, the country's health authorities said Wednesday.

The country launched a strict, two-week-long social distancing drive on March 22 urging people to keep a safe distance from each other by putting off all meetings, avoiding crowds and working from home to minimize contacts.

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Infections surge in capital area, hospitals exposed to cluster infections

SEOUL -- The number of coronavirus cases in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province has surpassed 1,000, putting South Korea's health and quarantine authorities on high alert despite the flattening of the infection curve nationwide.

Cluster infections have been reported at major hospitals in the capital area, home to nearly half of the country's 52 million-strong population.

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