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(LEAD) Moon vows to mobilize all resources to fight COVID-19 as new cases hit record

All News 14:25 December 12, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with more quotes and info; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in vowed Saturday to use all available resources to stem the spread of the new coronavirus as the country's new daily infection number hit a record high of 950.

Calling the current state an "emergency," Moon apologized for failing to promptly stabilize the COVID-19 situation despite tightened social distancing measures taken at the cost of citizens' inconvenience and economic damage.

"We will consider this as an emergency situation and put all out efforts in a short period of time, using all available administrative ability," he said in a message posted on Twitter.

On Saturday, South Korea reported 950 more COVID-19 cases, including 928 local infections, raising the total caseload to 41,736.

Moon said the government will first strengthen its contact tracing capabilities, mobilizing military, police and administrative officials, stressing that finding infected patients is the most important step to quickly overcome this crisis.

The government plans to set up temporary coronavirus test centers at 150 places in highly populated areas, such as Seoul Station.

The government will also expand drive-thru and walk-through virus test facilities, he said.

"If we greatly expand the number of tests like this, the number of patients could also increase. But it is a pre-emptive measure to find infected patients and prevent the spread," he said.

"This is the last crisis before the vaccines and treatments are out," he said. "Turning over a new leaf, the government will stop the spread of the virus with heightened determination and extraordinary measures."

Also Saturday, Prime Minister Chun Sye-kyun said South Korea has no choice but to raise social distancing measures to the highest level unless the spread of the coronavirus is curbed.

Social distancing Level 2.5, the second-highest level under the five-tier scheme, went into effect Tuesday in the greater Seoul area, covering Gyeonggi Province and Incheon, west of Seoul.

President Moon Jae-in speaks during an emergency meeting to review the nation's response to spikes in coronavirus cases in and around Seoul at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Dec. 9, 2020, in this photo provided by the presidential office. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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