President Moon Jae-in spoke on the phone with Chancellor of the Republic of Austria Sebastian Kurz, at the request of the Austrian Chancellor, for 30 minutes from 5:00 p.m. today.
Chancellor Kurz began by saying that he was very pleased to speak with President Moon on the phone and congratulated him on Korea’s successful response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Austrian Chancellor went on to say that as Korea’s quarantine efforts have been exemplary, he would like to hear President Moon explain how Korea has successfully responded to the outbreak.
In reply, President Moon said, “Korea, too, suffered difficulties due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but after having systematically responded through intensive testing and tracing as well as thorough epidemiological investigations, the daily number of new confirmed cases has drastically decreased to around 10 recently.” He added, “This achievement is attributable to our citizens’ voluntary participation based on transparent data disclosure.”
Chancellor Kurz said that Austria’s overriding concern is the reopening of schools for students as the country is also pushing to ease lockdowns, asking President Moon about the Korean Government’s stance on this issue.
President Moon said, “As the COVID-19 situation has stabilized considerably, we’ve begun to ease social distancing and are now considering transitioning soon to a system in which safety precautions are maintained in daily life. The Korean Government is contemplating opening schools as well: Students would go to school step by step in May – with middle and high school students in their third year attending first as they’ll take entrance exams this year – if stable management of the COVID-19 situation is maintained at the current level.”
Following his answer, President Moon asked Chancellor Kurz, “I wonder how Austria is preparing to start its schools.”
In reply, the Chancellor said that his country plans to reopen schools from May 15 and added that students will be split into two groups for classes.
The Chancellor then told President Moon that he was particularly impressed by the fact that Korea has quickly lowered the number of new confirmed cases. He added that Austria plans to reopen closed restaurants and stores and that he’d like to listen to President Moon’s opinions on what strategies are needed to prevent the outbreak of a second pandemic.
President Moon said, “In order to prevent a second pandemic, it is important to keep the number of new confirmed cases below a certain level by thoroughly maintaining safety precautions even while engaging in socioeconomic activities.” The President added, “Preventive efforts through close cooperation and solidarity within the international community is also necessary.”
President Moon went on to stress that “Korea intends to further strengthen international cooperation by sharing quarantine experiences and clinical data, providing quarantine and medical supplies, making efforts to develop a vaccine and treatments and guaranteeing the exchange of essential personnel, among other things.”
After President Moon mentioned the guaranteeing of essential personnel exchanges, Chancellor Kurz said that Austria plans to end its travel alerts in the near future and that it will also take steps to resume direct flights between the two countries since Korea is an exemplary nation in terms of responding to COVID-19. President Moon expressed his gratitude by saying, “Exchanges of people and goods must be continued to overcome the global economic crisis, and in that sense, Chancellor Kurz’s measure to resume direct flights would be very significant.”
Following their discussion about overcoming the COVID-19 outbreak, President Moon extended his gratitude to Austria – a leading nation in nuclear non-proliferation policy – for having continued to support our Government’s efforts to ease tension and establish peace on the Korean Peninsula.