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S. Korea Set to Ease Strict Social Distancing Campaign on May 6

Write: 2020-05-04 12:52:00Update: 2020-05-04 14:37:20

S. Korea Set to Ease Strict Social Distancing Campaign on May 6

Photo : YONHAP News

Anchor: Starting from Wednesday, the government will begin easing its strict social distancing campaign to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Koreans now face the task of creating a new lifestyle to keep COVID-19 at bay while resuming their daily routines.
Kim Bum-soo has more.  

Report: South Korea has confirmed eight new COVID-19 infections, bringing the national tally to ten-thousand-801 as of midnight Monday.  

[Sound bite: Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip (Korean)]
"As of midnight today, eight are newly confirmed and one-thousand-332 are currently under medical treatment. A total of 252 people have died so far, including the two who unfortunately died yesterday. I express my condolences. All of the eight newly confirmed cases yesterday are imported cases as four were detected at [immigration] quarantine checkpoints while the other four were found domestically [but traced to infections in foreign countries.]" 

During a daily coronavirus briefing Monday, Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip explained none of the new cases were domestic infections. South Korea also marked the 17th consecutive day it tallied less than 20 new infections.   

[Sound bite: Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip (Korean)]  
"If the current trend continues, we can deal with the COVID-19 outbreak within the range of our medical capabilities. Given the accumulating economic and social damage, it is difficult to continue social distancing measures. Thus, the government decided yesterday to wrap up these measures on May 6 and transition into the phase of 'routine life quarantine.' Transitioning out of social distancing does not mean that we are returning to life before the outbreak, but creating new norms and a culture to keep distance in our routine lives."  

Starting from Wednesday, the government is easing its strict social distancing campaign, gradually reopening public facilities including national parks, museums and ball parks. 

Appearing on KBS News on Sunday, Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said the transition still requires careful personal quarantine and hygiene measures.  

[Sound bite: Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo (Korean)]
(Anchor: The notion of routine-life distancing is somewhat confusing. It must not mean that we are stopping social distancing?)
"The word 'distancing' is still in the term 'routine-life distancing.' Our social distancing [campaign] called for abstaining from or minimizing social outings and gatherings and strict quarantine measures if such gatherings or events were held. The new 'routine-life distancing' basically allows such events that we abstained from. But we still ask for [personal] quarantine measures."
"Until a cure or a vaccine is developed, there is, in fact, nothing that can prevent the spread of the epidemic. When we don't have a cure or a vaccine, social distancing is the most effective way to prevent spread of the disease."   

While lifting the strictest quarantine campaign after 45 days, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told the public they have to adopt a new lifestyle to live safely alongside the pandemic.  

[Sound bite: Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun (Korean)]  
"We can be proud of the quarantine success that came while maintaining the principles of democracy, openness and transparency. But the war against COVID-19 is neither over nor is it expected to be concluded in a short period. We must now accept the [existence] of COVID-19 [around us] and create a new routine of living with COVID-19. Candidly speaking, as the man in charge of quarantine, I am afraid. It is not just the hope that we are looking at, although the current situation is at an ideal level that we can control. There is the possibility that more confirmed infections will be reported than during our social distancing campaign as the risk rises."  

Ahead of school openings later this month, the prime minister said the government will place its top priority on making sure students are safe from viruses. He said the social distancing campaign might resume at any time if signs of high infection risks reemerge.   
Kim Bum-soo, KBS World Radio News.

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