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Yonhap News Summary

All News 17:09 April 08, 2020

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

S. Korea's 31st virus patient still undergoing treatment: KCDC

SEOUL -- South Korea's 31st coronavirus patient, considered a probable "super spreader," has become the country's longest-infected COVID-19 patient, health authorities said Wednesday.

The 61-year-old woman, who tested positive for the new coronavirus on Feb. 18, is still receiving treatment at Daegu Medical Center in Daegu, some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has been hospitalized for 51 days, the longest of any COVID-19 patient in South Korea.

S. Korea to host online seminar to share anti-virus know-how with foreign countries

SEOUL -- South Korea will host an online seminar this week to share its coronavirus containment measures and know-how with foreign countries, a foreign ministry official said Wednesday.

The video presentation, slated for late Thursday, comes as an increasing number of foreign countries has been seeking to benchmark various quarantine steps South Korea has taken to stem the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

(LEAD) S. Korea mulls ways to guarantee voting rights to those in self-isolation over coronavirus

SEOUL -- South Korea is exploring ways to permit those in self-isolation over the new coronavirus to cast their ballots in next week's parliamentary elections while minimizing the risk of infection, officials said Wednesday.

The National Election Commission (NEC), the election watchdog, is in talks with the government over ways to temporarily lift two-week quarantine rules for a few hours on April 15 so as to permit affected people to cast ballots.

PM supports universal payment of emergency funds to entire population over coronavirus

SEOUL -- South Korea's prime minister said Wednesday he supports the proposed provision of emergency relief funds over the new coronavirus to the entire population if retrieving the money from high-income earners later is set as a precondition.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun was expressing his personal views on the universal payment, in response to politicians' proposal of expanding the scope of recipients for the funds to the nation's 51 million people.

S. Korea to submit extra budget bill next week to tackle pandemic

SEOUL -- South Korea's chief economic policymaker said Wednesday the government plans to submit a proposal for a second extra budget to the parliament next week to cushion the country from the fallout of the new coronavirus pandemic and beef up domestic consumption.

South Korea is currently pushing for a second extra budget worth 7.1 trillion won (US$5.8 billion) to provide shopping coupons and gift certificates to more than half of the country's households to help minimize the economic fallout from the pandemic.

(LEAD) Seoul mayor orders clubs, bars to close in anti-virus measure

SEOUL -- Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon on Wednesday issued a de facto business suspension order on clubs and bars across the city following COVID-19 infections linked to a bar in the ritzy neighborhood of Gangnam.

"(I) issue an order on banning gatherings at 'room salons,' clubs and 'colatheques' until the government's social distancing campaign ends on April 19," Park told reporters in a press briefing, referring to bars where mostly women serve drinks and a local version of discos.

3 S. Korean firms sign contracts to supply coronavirus test kits to U.S.

SEOUL -- Three South Korean companies have inked contracts with the U.S. government to export coronavirus test kits, with shipments likely to take place next week, a foreign ministry official said Wednesday.

The companies won interim approval last month from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the exports, after U.S. President Donald Trump voiced hope to import Korean-made medical equipment to fight the COVID-19 pandemic during a phone call with President Moon Jae-in.

Gov't recommends temporary closure of private academies

SEOUL -- The government on Wednesday recommended that all private educational institutes nationwide temporarily close to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Issuing an administrative order, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said private educational facilities, including foreign language schools, will be allowed to operate on the condition that they thoroughly follow government guidelines on preventing the spread of COVID-19.

USFK reports coronavirus case from Camp Casey, total at 21

SEOUL -- U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) reported a coronavirus case from Camp Casey, north of Seoul, on Wednesday, bringing the total number of USFK-related infections to 21.

It is the first confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus from the base in the city of Dongducheon, around 40 kilometers north of Seoul.

Korean economy to shrink 2.3 pct this year on virus: report

SEOUL -- The South Korean economy is expected to contract 2.3 percent on-year in 2020 due to the fallout from the new coronavirus outbreak, a local private think tank said Wednesday.

The latest projection by the Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI) is down from its earlier estimate of a 1.9 percent gain made in the fourth quarter of last year.

Korean steelmakers to suffer lower demand on virus impact: Moody's

SEOUL -- Moody's Investors Service said Wednesday that South Korean steelmakers will suffer a sharp decline in demand and prices due to the growing coronavirus impact on the steel and related industries.

"In Korea, we expect domestic and export demand will fall dramatically, reflecting lower auto production and sluggish housing construction. The rated steelmakers in Korea have high exposure to the auto sector and are therefore vulnerable to declining auto production," Moody's said in a report.

S. Korea unveils 36 tln-won aid package for exporters amid pandemic

SEOUL -- South Korea on Wednesday unveiled an additional aid package worth at least 36 trillion won (US$29.5 billion) to help exporters and brace for the long-term economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the plan, the country will extend the maturity of trade insurance worth 30 trillion won for exporters by one year without additional charges, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

(LEAD) Samsung shutters U.S. washing machine factory again over coronavirus

SEOUL -- Samsung Electronics Co. said Wednesday it has again shuttered a washing machine factory in the United States due to the novel coronavirus.

Samsung said it will suspend the operations of its home appliance plant in Newberry County, South Carolina, until April 19 to protect its workers from COVID-19.

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