SEOUL, Eight merchants working at Namdaemun Market in central Seoul and at least one family member have tested positive for the new coronavirus, officials said Monday, raising concern about a fresh cluster of pandemic infections at the nation’s largest traditional market. According to municipal officials, eight merchants who belong to the sprawling market’s women’s fashion shopping mall, called Kennedy Complex, had been found to be infected with COVID-19 as of Sunday afternoon. The latest cluster of infections appears to be traced to a female Kennedy Complex employee, a resident of Goyang, just northwest of Seoul, who tested positive last Friday, the officials speculated. Soon after, quarantine authorities conducted coronavirus tests on 20 merchants who were working on the same floor as the Goyang resident, and seven of them produced positive results, they said. The Goyang woman’s child was additionally found to be infected, they added. The authorities are planning to conduct more COVID-19 tests after examining if there were others who came into contact with the Goyang woman and the infected merchants. All the infected merchants were working on the ground floor of Kennedy Complex, and there were around five other merchants who work on other floors of the shopping mall, the officials said. The Seoul metropolitan government has sent out public text massages asking all shoppers who may have recently come into contact with Kennedy Complex merchants to take the coronavirus test. Kennedy Complex is located between Exit 5 and Exit 6 of Hoehyeon Station on Seoul Subway Line 4. Namdaemun Market is the largest traditional market in Korea with shops selling all kinds of consumer goods, including clothes, glasses, kitchenware, toys, stationery, accessories, ginseng and imported goods. Source: Yonhap News Agency

SEOUL, Public support for South Korea’s main opposition United Future Party (UFP) has continued to rise, further narrowing the gap with the ruling Democratic Party (DP) to 0.5 percentage point, a poll showed Monday.
The DP’s approval rating kept dropping, as a growing number of voters, especially in Seoul and nearby Gyeonggi Province, are in a fury over skyrocketing housing prices and rent.
In a five-day Realmeter survey of 2,520 people, aged 18 or older, nationwide through last Friday, 35.1 percent of respondents expressed support for the DP, down 3.2 percentage points from the previous week.
The UFP’s rating gained 2.9 percentage points to 34.6 percent. The margin of error is plus and minus 2 percentage points.
The rating marks the highest in the pollster’s weekly survey since the party was formed in February through the merger of the Liberty Korea Party and a few smaller conservative parties ahead of the April 15 parliamentary elections. The UFP suffered a crushing loss in the elections.
The gap in public support between the rival parties was 0.5 points, the lowest of all time.
President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating declined 2.5 percentage points to 43.9 percent.
Many agree that weeks of decline in the ruling bloc’s approval ratings are mainly attributable to unrelenting hikes in apartment prices and housing rent in the greater Seoul area, home to around half of the nation’s 52-million population.
The Moon administration has come under fierce criticism over its housing market policy. Revelations that some senior Cheong Wa Dae officials have owned two houses or more have fueled public anger.
Last Friday, Moon’s Chief of Staff Noh Young-min and all five senior secretaries under his command offered to resign, saying their actions were meant to take responsibility for the “comprehensive recent situation.”
Realmeter said UFP lawmaker Yun Hee-suk’s floor speech late last month condemning the government’s real estate policy also appears to have positively affected the UFP.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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