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Korea reveals $10-billion spending plan as COVID-19 cases top 5,600
  • By Shim Hyun-tai
  • Published 2020.03.04 13:44
  • Updated 2020.03.05 13:04
  • comments 0

The government announced an extra budget of 11.7 trillion won ($9.8 billion) on Wednesday, to combat new coronavirus and stimulate the sagging economy, as Korea’s total confirmed cases exceed 5,600.

Announcing the extra budget, Minister of Economy Finance Hong Nam-ki said 2.3 trillion won would be allocated to offer more medical equipment, hospital beds and facilities for patient treatment with the remaining 9.4 trillion won being used to help struggling businesses and stimulating moribund consumption.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 809 new COVID-19 patients were confirmed on Tuesday, bringing the accumulated total to 5,621. Daegu and surrounding North Gyeongsang Province are responsible for nearly 90 percent of the nation’s total infections. The sum of confirmed patients in the two southeastern clusters has reached 4,780 as of midnight Tuesday, accounting for 89.7 percent of the national total.

Besides, about 60 percent of confirmed cases have been related to the Sincheonji religious sect in Daegu, Korea’s fourth-largest city with a population of 2.5 million. As of Tuesday, 2,383 out of 3,601 patients had connections to the church. This accounts for 66 percent of infection in Daegu. The North Gyeongsang Province had 229 patients linked to the church members out of 685 patients.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government has decided to revoke the Shincheonji Church's permission as a corporate body. The church will lose its tax-exempting privileges and be left as a voluntary organization. The capital city has the authority of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.

Yoo Yeon-shik, head of the Cultural Division at the City Hall, said Tuesday that the city was nullifying the permission for the church, as it harmed the public interest, considering what it has been doing throughout the coronavirus outbreak. Article 38 of the Civil Code allows permit cancellation “when one conducts business out of purpose, violates the conditions of the establishment permit, or harms the public interest,'

"Although COVID-19 is threatening the lives of Korean citizens, Shincheonji Church did not cooperate with the government and hesitated to submit the member list and provided false information," Yoo said. "They are still gathering and propagating their religion secretly at bogus facilities. We believe religious freedom is only allowed inside the boundary of the public interest."

Meanwhile, a petition calling for impeaching President Moon Jae-in has got more than 1.4 million endorsements since Feb. 4, citing Moon’s failure to forbid the entry of travelers from China. As the number of COVID-19 patients continues to grow rapidly, negative sentiment toward the government has risen.

With the COVID-19 spread accelerating here, other nations are shutting their doors to Korea. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 92 countries have either barred entrance from Korea or strengthened entry measures.

So far, 35 people, mostly elderly patients with underlying illnesses, have died from the respiratory virus, and 41 left the hospital fully recovered, the KCDC said. Some pointed to the relatively lower fatality here. The number of deaths in Korea is less than half of Italy’s 78, while this country has confirmed cases more than double that of the European nation. Korea's mortality rate of coronavirus also stood at 0.6 percent, far lower than the global average of 3.5.

As of Tuesday midnight, the number of people tested for COVID-19 totaled 131,379 people, aside from the 5,621 confirmed cases. Among the total, 102,965 showed negative with the results of the other 28,414 being analyzed.


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