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(LEAD) Gov't to swiftly take steps to designate rain-hit areas as special disaster zone

All News 09:32 August 12, 2022

(ATTN: ADDS remarks, details in last 5 paras, photo)
By Kim Deok-hyun

SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Han Duck-soo on Friday instructed the government to swiftly take steps to designate areas that were hit by heavy rains early this week as a special disaster zone.

If designated, the rain-hit areas will be eligible for the government's financial support in recovery work, relief funds for victims and other benefits.

"The government will make its utmost efforts to stabilize the lives of residents in the affected areas and to support a swift recovery," Han said during a disaster response meeting.

Two days of the heaviest rainfall in 80 years battered Seoul and its surrounding areas earlier this week, killing 13 people, with six people still remained missing.

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo (2nd from R) presides over a meeting at the government complex in Seoul on Aug. 12, 2022, to check countermeasures against torrential rain. (Yonhap)

With the subvariant of omicron driving up COVID-19 infections, Han said the government will encourage "one-stop" COVID-19 treatment centers, where people can take virus tests, get in-person medical care services and receive antiviral drugs, to treat more patients.

Han reassured people that the government has secured some 7,000 beds for virus patients and the public health system could deal with a resurgence of the virus.

"Currently, the government has operated 7,080 COVID-19 treatment beds, which can respond to the level of 210,000 confirmed patients," Han told the meeting.

The country reported 137,241 new COVID-19 infections Thursday.

Health authorities said daily virus cases are likely to peak at about 200,000 this month. But some experts forecast COVID-19 infections could exceed the mark in late August.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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