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South Korea's National Assembly closes after COVID-19 outbreak

South Korea’s parliament will be closed for two days after coronavirus infections were reported among lawmakers and their staff. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
South Korea’s parliament will be closed for two days after coronavirus infections were reported among lawmakers and their staff. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

June 11 (UPI) -- South Korea's parliament shut down after several people affiliated with the ruling Democratic Party tested positive for COVID-19.

Party chairman Rep. Song Young-gil's aide, who was not identified, was confirmed for the novel coronavirus. Ruling party lawmaker Rep. Ahn Gyu-back also tested positive, local network KBS reported Friday.

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"An aide of Chairman Song tested positive for COVID-19 this morning. We're aware that a member of the Seoul city council who the aide met Wednesday also tested positive," a Democratic Party official said, according to Yonhap.

Parliament evacuated all employees and closed buildings. Workers wearing Hazmat suits could be seen disinfecting offices in local news footage.

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Song reportedly did not have close contact with his infected aide. The party chairman tested negative for COVID-19, according to KBS.

The report stated more than one aide in Ahn's office tested positive for the virus, in addition to an aide in another lawmaker's office. The total number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 at the National Assembly in the past two days is five, the report said.

Ahn was diagnosed with COVID-19 amid a busy schedule. The lawmaker attended party meetings, press events and appeared on news programs. Concern is rising about an outbreak among people who may have made contact with the politician, according to reports.

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Ahn also is a presidential campaign leader for former Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun. Chung reportedly tested negative for COVID-19, but tests of other team members could be ongoing.

The National Assembly is to suspend sessions for two days, delaying important discussions on real estate policy, the report said. Last year the buildings were shuttered twice, in February and August, due to coronavirus concerns.

South Korea's vaccine rollout was initially slow but the vaccine drive has ramped up after shipments of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines began to arrive in recent months.

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The government has said it plans to vaccinate 70% of the population by the third quarter.

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