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South Korean leader urges no panic as cases rise

SEOUL, South Korea

South Korea on Sunday reported 34 additional cases of the coronavirus amid a spate of infections linked to club goers, as President Moon Jae-in urged calm, saying that “there’s no reason to stand still out of fear.”

Figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised the number of virus cases to 10,874, including 256 deaths.

The agency said 26 of the 34 new patients were locally transmitted cases, while the others came from overseas. It was the first time that the daily jump has been above 30 in about a month.

Most of the cases in the past few days have been linked to nightclubs in Seoul’s Itaewon entertainment neighborhood. A 29-year-old man had visited three clubs before testing positive last week.

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon on Saturday ordered more than 2,100 nightclubs, hostess bars and discos to close and urged others to enforce anti-virus measures. On Sunday, the governor of Gyeonggi province, which surrounds Seoul, ordered a two-week shutdown of all nightclubs there.

“The infection cluster, which recently occurred in entertainment facilities, has raised awareness that even during the stabilization phase, similar situations can arise again, anytime, anywhere in an enclosed, crowded space,” Moon said.

“We must never lower our guard regarding epidemic prevention,” he said, adding that his country had “the right quarantine and medical systems combined with experience to respond quickly to any unexpected infection clusters that might occur.”

Moon said his government will concentrate all its capabilities on overcoming the economic damage, which he described as “colossal.”

“We cannot survive if we fail to turn this crisis into an opportunity,” he said.

Moon said South Korea’s trade balance in April recorded a deficit for the first time in 99 months, and that the service industry contraction is expanding into a manufacturing industry crisis.

He said the government will try to create jobs, boost consumption, recover tourism and promote investment.

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