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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 17:01 September 11, 2020

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

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(3rd LD) New virus cases under 200 for 9th day, S. Korea undecided on easing virus measures

SEOUL -- South Korea's new virus cases stayed below 200 for the ninth consecutive day Friday, but the country is still undecided over whether to extend enhanced virus measures in the greater Seoul area due to sporadic cluster infections and untraceable cases.

The country added 176 more COVID-19 cases, including 161 local infections, raising the total caseload to 21,919, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

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(LEAD) COVID-19 infections at major Seoul hospital increase to 23

SEOUL -- Cluster infections at one of the biggest hospitals in the South Korean capital have increased to 23 as of Friday, raising alarm over a possibly bigger outbreak.

The cluster has been growing after a patient associated with the nutrition team at Severance Hospital in western Seoul first tested positive on Wednesday. Additional infections were later reported at the institution's rehabilitation hospital, which has been cordoned off for cohort isolation.

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(2nd LD) Chief of new disease control agency appointed in special ceremony at her local office

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in attended a rare ceremony outside Cheong Wa Dae to appoint Jeong Eun-kyeong, South Korea's disease control czar, as head of a new agency to operate autonomously with more authority and workforce.

Jeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), has been tapped to lead the upgraded state body, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), which will be launched Saturday to replace the KCDC.

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Celltrion's COVID-19 treatment substance shows efficacy

SEOUL -- Celltrion Inc., a leading pharmaceutical firm in South Korea, said Friday that its coronavirus antibody treatment substance has shown treatment efficacy in clinical trials.

CT-P59 has been administered to 32 healthy volunteers who have not contracted COVID-19 since July after receiving approval for phase one trials from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

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Gov't bans Oct. 3 protest rallies in Seoul due to coronavirus fears

SEOUL -- The government said Friday it will ban anti-government protest rallies planned by conservatives in central Seoul early next month, due to fears of coronavirus transmission.

Conservative activist groups critical of the Moon Jae-in government have vowed to hold 291 rallies in downtown Seoul on the occasion of the National Foundation Day, which falls on Oct. 3, despite criticism that their similar outdoor gatherings on the Aug. 15 Liberation Day have so far resulted in 557 new cases of COVID-19 nationwide.

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S. Korea, U.S. agree progress was made in preparations for OPCON transfer

SEOUL -- South Korea and the United States have agreed that last month's joint exercises helped make progress in preparations for Seoul to retake the wartime operational control (OPCON) of its forces from Washington, the defense ministry said Friday.

The OPCON transition was one of the agenda items for the biannual 18th Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD) that the two countries held via videoconferencing on Wednesday and Friday, along with North Korea and other security issues.

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(LEAD) Seoul stocks almost flat on valuation concerns

SEOUL -- South Korean shares closed nearly flat on Friday amid growing valuation woes in the financial markets. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 0.21 points, or 0.01 percent, to close at 2,396.69. Trading volume was moderate at about 872 million shares worth some 11.9 trillion won (US$10 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 456 to 377.

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Rights panel finds ministry lacked fairness in handling New Zealand sexual abuse case

SEOUL -- The foreign ministry failed to fairly handle allegations that a senior diplomat sexually abused a local embassy employee in New Zealand, and even included officials directly under him in an internal probe team, a National Human Rights Commission report showed Friday.

The report, obtained by Yonhap News Agency, outlines the commission's finding into the allegations that the senior Korean diplomat groped a male New Zealand employee at the embassy in Wellington multiple times when he was stationed there in 2017.

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Ex-Army colonel says he was informed of multiple calls seeking favors for justice minister's son

SEOUL -- A retired Army colonel said Friday that he received multiple reports of phone calls seeking special favors for Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae's son during the latter's mandatory military service in 2017.

Lee Cheol-won served as head of the Republic of Korea Army Support Group for the U.S. Eighth Army when Choo's son, surnamed Seo, served in its 2nd Infantry Division in Uijeongbu, north of the capital.

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Gyeonggi governor slightly ahead of DP leader in presidential hopeful poll

SEOUL -- Lee Jae-myung, governor of Gyeonggi Province, topped an opinion poll on potential presidential candidates for the second consecutive month.

In a survey by Gallup Korea released Friday, Lee of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), maintained a 1 percentage point lead over Lee Nak-yon, the party's chief and a former prime minister.
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