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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:30 May 19, 2020

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

(LEAD) S. Korea alert over virus outbreak at major hospital; club cluster brought under control

SEOUL -- South Korea's daily infections of the new coronavirus stayed below 20 for the fourth straight day Tuesday as the country saw a marked slowdown in cluster infections linked to Itaewon, a nightlife district in Seoul.

But the country is facing yet another potential mass infection, this one tied to a major hospital in Seoul.

Schools reopen for high school seniors Wednesday as planned

SEOUL -- Schools finally reopen Wednesday for high school seniors after a spate of delays due to safety concerns over the novel coronavirus.

According to education officials, the planned school reopening for high school third graders will proceed as scheduled, 79 days after the original semester start day of March 2.

(LEAD) Four nurses at major hospital in Seoul infected with COVID-19

SEOUL -- Four nurses working at Samsung Medical Center, one of the country's biggest general hospitals, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Seoul Mayor said Tuesday.

In a press briefing, Mayor Park Won-soon said 265 of 277 people, including health workers and patients, who were in contact with the infected nurses, are being checked for the virus, adding that parts of the hospital have been temporarily closed down.

Cluster infections traced to dishonest instructor spreading in Incheon

INCHEON -- The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Incheon traced to an infected private academy instructor at the center of the port city's latest outbreak of cluster infections have increased by four to 21, the municipal government said Tuesday.

The latest victims include a Chinese couple who used a taxi driven by a 66-year-old man who contracted COVID-19 after driving the instructor in Incheon, about 50 kilometers west of Seoul, on May 4, the government said.

(LEAD) S. Korea files protest at Japan over repeated Dokdo claims in annual diplomatic book

SEOUL -- The foreign ministry called in a senior Japanese diplomat on Tuesday to lodge a protest after Tokyo's latest annual diplomatic book showed containing its repeated territorial claims to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo.

Kim Jung-han, director general for Asia and Pacific affairs at Seoul's foreign ministry called in Hirohisa Soma, a senior official from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, to express regret over the book's content and urge for Tokyo to retract the claims.

Trump suggests Pompeo asked staffer to walk his dog because he was busy with N.K. leader

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday defended Secretary of State Mike Pompeo against allegations he had a staffer walk his dog, saying the top U.S. diplomat may have been busy negotiating with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Trump's remarks came amid growing allegations that Pompeo asked the president to fire the State Department's inspector general because he was conducting an investigation into the secretary's alleged use of government employees for personal errands and his decision to fast-track a US$8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

S. Korea develops ASF test kits

SEOUL -- South Korea said Tuesday it has developed a new test kit for the African swine fever (ASF) that can pave the way for the country to speed up its battle against the fatal animal disease and reduce its dependency on imported tools.

The state-run Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency has completed the development of a kit that can test acute forms of ASF, under the cooperation with the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience & Biotechnology and Korea University.

(LEAD) N. Korea among 47 countries facing food shortages due to global pandemic: U.N. agency

SEOUL -- Around 183 million people in 47 countries, including North Korea, are facing the possibility of severe food insecurity as border closures and disruptions in global supply chains have restricted their access to farming products, a U.N. food agency said.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also estimated in a report that around US$350 million will be needed this year to provide necessary assistance to those countries facing a looming crisis.

Ruling party absorbs sister party, cementing mega-majority for new term

SEOUL -- The ruling Democratic Party (DP) has merged with its sister party, cementing its mega-majority status for the National Assembly's new term, according to the National Election Commission (NEC) on Tuesday.

The DP and the Platform Party, a satellite party that the ruling party created as an election strategy for the April 15 parliamentary elections, submitted a declaration of their merger to the NEC a day earlier. Approving the declaration, the NEC officially announced the merger the same day.

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