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Amid eased restrictions, all grade-schoolers join online classesGov’t hurries to shell out ‘basic disaster income’
  • By Shim Hyun-tai
  • Published 2020.04.20 12:44
  • Updated 2020.04.21 13:01
  • comments 0

Korea reported 13 more new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total to 10,674, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The nation marked daily Covid-19 cases of below 20 for the third consecutive day.

Two more deaths of the Covid-19 raised the toll to 236. The fatality rate reached 2.2 percent.

In a daily interagency meeting, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun elaborated on detailed steps the public should follow, as the nation entered into eased social distancing regime from this week. There are lingering concerns among officials about relaxing the stringent restrictions.

“Recently, the number of newly confirmed patients decreased to around a dozen a day. However, if people do not keep a certain amount of distance from each other, a sudden increase of Covid-19 cases can occur in May after an incubation period,” Chung said. “When operating the multiuse facility, you must comply with the quarantine guidelines, such as heating checks before and after entry, maintaining a gap between people, prohibiting the use of public items, and ventilation.”

Experts also said how well facility operators and users abide by the plan over the next 14 days is likely to determine whether the Covid-19 to spread again or not.

"Loosening the distance rule should be practiced with securing space in the room, hand hygiene, and wearing a mask," Gachon University Gil Hospital Professor Eom Joong-sik said. "Citizens should abide by the quarantine guidelines when using facilities that many people use to prevent additional widespread."

Timed with the relaxed social restrictions, about 5.4 million elementary, middle, and high school students, including the first to third graders, began to attend online classes earlier in the day. Tele-study started for 858,000 ninth and 12th graders on April 9, followed by the other 3.12 million middle and high school students on April 16.

About 1.37 million first to third graders in elementary school met their teachers remotely after 49 days from the scheduled opening of the spring semester.

There were web connection failures and other technical glitches. Whether the education ministry can overcome these as soon as possible determines the success or failure of the online schooling, experts said.

Fresh from the landslide election victory, the government and ruling party officials are speeding up efforts to provide economic relief for the people hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Sunday, however, these officials failed to agree on how and whom to provide the emergency relief funds. The Democratic Party of Korea pledged to provide disaster relief funds to all Koreans while the government maintained the position of limiting them to the bottom 70 percent in income brackets. As to raising the financial resources, the ruling party proposed to issue government bonds while the administrative officials used the pre-allocated outlays.

Rep. Lee In-young, floor leader of the governing party, said, “The party will seek ways to give relied funds to all people as it pledged before the general election without conflicting with the executive branch.”

As of midnight Sunday, Korea conducted 563,035 tests and completed 551,054 tests. Among the tested people, 540,380 showed a negative response to the test, and 11,981 suspected patients are waiting for the results. The accumulated confirmation rate remained at 1.9 percent.


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