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Despite Covid-19, voters show highest turnout since 2000Daily virus cases stay below 30 over past week
  • By Shim Hyun-tai
  • Published 2020.04.15 19:18
  • Updated 2020.04.16 12:56
  • comments 0

Korea reported 27 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, curbing the figure below 30 over the past week, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The total number of confirmed patients increased to 10,591 as of midnight Tuesday. Medical institutions discharged 82 more recovered patients, pushing the number of cured cases to 7,616. However, they failed to reduce the mortality rate, as three more people died, pushing up the death toll to 225.

The nation once again became the target of international attention as it held the quadrennial parliamentary election on the day. Many nations, including the United Kingdom and France, have put off their elections due to the new coronavirus.

As of 5 p.m., voter turnout reached 62.6 percent despite the Covid-19 turmoil, which rivaling political parties interpreted to their liking – the ruling camp regarded it as support for the Moon Jae-in administration, especially its exemplary handling of the pandemic, and the opposition groups viewed it as people’s rebuke of the Moon government’s economic failures, aggravated by the new coronavirus shock.

The early voting rate last Friday and Thursday also stood at 26.69 percent, the highest level of all time.

Experts here said if Korea’s parliamentary polls end up with few cluster infections, it may provide a roadmap for other nations with similar political schedules. At home, the successful handling of the nationwide event without resulting in mass outbreaks, the government can transit from the current stringent social distancing to a “life quarantine system,” which allows a certain level of regular activities to prepare for a long-term fight against the pandemic, they added.

The election was conducted with a fixed set of voters' behavior to prevent infection, which includes not bringing young children, checking fever, using a hand sanitizer, wearing disposable plastic gloves, distancing a meter away from others, and keeping silence.

"The final voter turnout is likely to end at the mid-60 percent range, as seen by the unending lines before polling booths. They know that their votes can play a significant role in overcoming the national crisis named Covid-19," said Yu Yong-hwa, a visiting professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul. "The implementation of the early voting system despite Covid-19 also appears to have exerted positive influence on voters."

After ordinary voters finish their voting at 6 p.m., self-isolated voters headed to participate in the 21st parliamentary election, which selects the country’s 300-member National Assembly. The self-quarantined voters can go out of their residences for only 100 minutes -- from 5:20 to 7 p.m. Only asymptomatic self-isolators, who reported their will to vote, were allowed to participate.

A total of 13,642 self-isolators among the total of 9,918 quarantined hit the polls.

As of midnight Tuesday, the nation tested 534,552 people and saw 512,787 test results. Among the tested, 519,526 people negatively responded to the test, and 15,026 will receive results soon. The accumulated confirmation rate edged down to 2.0 percent from 2.1.


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