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Govt. preparing to declare virus-stricken Daegu a special disaster


The South Korean government is preparing to designate Daegu and nearby North Gyeongsang Province, hard hit by massive coronavirus infections, as "special disaster zones" in a bid to facilitate emergency relief and administrative and financial support, according to Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Friday.

"Procedures are under way in relation to the declaration" of Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and the province as special diaster zones," he said at an interagency meeting on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic that was held in the city.

Chung said he would soon make a formal suggestion to President Moon Jae-in for the declaration.

Nearly 6,000 coronavirus cases were confirmed in Daegu, a city with 2.4 million residents, as of Thursday, with more than 1,100 patients reported in the province with a population of 2.7 million.

Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin and North Gyeongsang Province Gov. Lee Cheol-woo earlier requested that the government take the measure. They made the call in a meeting with National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang and political party leaders Thursday.

The prime minister, meanwhile, said Daegu seems to have passed a watershed in the fight against the virus, citing a sharp reduction in the number of confirmed cases over the past few days.

"As the most urgent moment passes by, the wounds of Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province citizens are being laid bare," he said.

They have lost their daily life and suffered a huge blow in their livelihoods, he added.

Chung emphasized that the government would continue full efforts to contain the viral disease, which is spreading in other parts of the nation, without complacency.

"The experience in Daegu would serve as a valued weapon in this battle," he said. (Yonhap)