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Moon calls for focus on battling COVID-19, economic impact

President Moon Jae-in speaks at a meeting with senior aides on Monday. Yonhap
President Moon Jae-in speaks at a meeting with senior aides on Monday. Yonhap

President Moon Jae-in on Monday reiterated the call to focus resources on battling the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as its economic effects.

On Monday, Moon held the weekly meeting with senior aides and the heads of major medical associations concerned with infectious diseases and quarantine.

At the meeting, Moon said the government is engaging in related measures with “extraordinary determination,” and stressed that further spread of the disease must be prevented.

“All risk factors must be managed and controlled in Daegu and Cheongdo, and to prevent spread of the infection to other areas,” Moon said.

He said that the government is speeding up the process of checking on all members of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which is at the center of the expanding outbreak in the North Gyeongsang Province region. More than half of the cases confirmed have been linked to the church. A number of local governments, including Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, have ordered Shincheonji facilities to be closed on concerns that infected members of the church could further spread the virus.

Saying that the government is working with local governments and medical institutions to operate all quarantine-related measure at full capacity, Moon again urged the public to trust the government and to support its efforts.

Moon also stressed the need for economic measures, saying special measures are needed as the economy is facing an emergency, and that measures must be rolled out rapidly.

“IMF and other international organizations and financial institutions have defined economic impact of COVID-19 as the most urgent uncertainty, and advising action from national governments,” Moon said.

“The government must mobilize all policy tools to take action immediately,” he said, going on to say that bold government spending is needed to aid Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, and to shore up the economy.

Saying that timing of such measures is vital to their efficacy, Moon called on attendants to speed up the process of drawing up economic measures. With COVID-19 affecting local corporations and economies, the government has been drawing up a number of support measures. The first batch of measures is expected within the month.

“In addition to quickly utilizing the reserve budget, review drawing up an extra budget with the help of the National Assembly,” Moon said.

By Choi He-suk (