The number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases has decreased by a large margin across the country. The new confirmed case counts in Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, which have accounted for a large portion of the total, have also significantly dwindled. By contrast, the number of patients who have fully recovered has swelled, reducing the number of those who need treatment in isolation. Barring an unforeseen situation, this pace is expected to quicken further. Accordingly, our confidence that we can prevail over the COVID-19 epidemic is growing, and the international community is assessing our quarantine system highly and showing increasing interest.
Despite this encouraging trend, we still cannot feel at ease because sporadic, small infection clusters continue to spring up. Particularly in the Seoul metropolitan area, the mass infection cases at a call center, church, hospital and cyber cafe are keeping us from lowering our guard even the slightest bit. Our approach from now onward is all the more important.
In particular, we’ve now come to a point when the success or failure of our quarantine efforts in the metropolitan area is crucial. About half of our country’s population lives in this area. There are many places where people find themselves in dense crowds amid their daily lives and activities. Concern still remains that all of our quarantine efforts and achievements thus far could be brought back to square one if larger infection clusters occur or community infection spreads quickly in the metropolitan area.
Moreover, anxiety about a possible inflow from overseas has also increased significantly due to the rapid deterioration of the situation in other countries. It is not an exaggeration to say that success or failure in stemming the spread in the metropolitan area will determine whether we can sustain and firmly establish the trend toward stability.
Under the command of Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, Gyeonggi-do Governor Lee Jae-myung and Incheon Mayor Park Nam-choon, the three local governments have been doing very well to date, but this meeting has been arranged to check the situation together once again at this point.
I’d like to emphasize in particular the great need for cooperation among the local governments on joint quarantine efforts in the Seoul metropolitan area as it is in fact a common living space for the people. It is essential for each local government, as a single living space, to share information and create a cooperative system, while further strengthening quarantines for places vulnerable to contagions such as crowded public facilities and high-risk workspaces.
I urge you to closely work together to share vital quarantine information, including data on confirmed cases and travel histories; quarantine systems for inner- and interurban transportation networks; and cooperation on hospital bed access. The central government will support local governments in their efforts to stop infectious diseases from spreading to their communities. We will do everything we can to thoroughly block any inflow of the COVID-19 now spreading worldwide so that local communities’ quarantine networks will not be compromised.
I also ask the people, as the principal agents of these quarantine efforts, to refrain from participating in large-scale events and gatherings, to comply with action guidelines and join the quarantine efforts in their daily lives. I would like the central and local governments, the quarantine authorities, medical professionals and the people to come together as one and surmount this difficulty through trust and cooperation. Thank you.