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S. Korea, US in close communication over coronavirus: ambassador

Amb. Lee Soo-hyuck (Yonhap)
Amb. Lee Soo-hyuck (Yonhap)

WASHINGTON -- South Korea and the United States have been in close communication over the coronavirus, including the US response to a surge in cases in the South, Seoul's ambassador to Washington said Wednesday.

Amb. Lee Soo-hyuck said South Korean Embassy officials have been meeting with State Department and White House officials to communicate the South Korean government's response to the COVID-19 outbreak and discuss the US government's next steps.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued the highest type of travel health notice for South Korea, recommending that Americans avoid all nonessential travel to the country due to the spread of the coronavirus there.

"I also had a quickly arranged meeting with National Security Council officials yesterday and held close consultations," Lee told reporters at a briefing. "I plan to continue talks with senior officials today."

South Korea has reported 1,261 cases of the coronavirus, with 12 deaths.

Lee said the US consulted South Korea before the State Department raised its travel advisory for the country from Level 1 to Level 2 over the weekend.

The new advisory urges travelers to exercise increased caution.

"We have been stressing that our government's actions have been preemptive and proactive and that we have been disclosing all of our information in a transparent manner with the rest of the world," the ambassador said. "We have let them know that these proactive measures and transparency are the backdrop for the increase in confirmed cases in our country, while sharing opinions on what repercussions the US measures could bring." (Yonhap)