President Moon Jae-in said Sunday that South Korea is "certainly" capable of bringing the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak under control and advised people not to have excessive fear.
He voiced confidence in the government's fight against the two-month-long pandemic, which originated in China, while meeting with residents in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province and Asan, South Chungcheong Province.
The Moon administration chartered flights to bring a total of 701 South Koreans home from the Chinese city of Wuhan on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. They remain accommodated in isolation at state-run facilities in Jincheon and Asan, both located roughly 90 kilometers south of Seoul.
"What's certain, above all, is that we have clearly confirmed that we can adequately handle the new contagious disease with our quarantine system and overcome it," the president said in a meeting with Asan residents after visiting the Police Human Resources Development Institute in the county, which serves as the provisional home of 528 evacuees.
Moon said South Korea has learned a lot about the disease via its related response so far.
South Korea has reported 25 confirmed cases as of Sunday afternoon without a death. Three patients have been fully healed and discharged from hospitals.
"We got to know that despite unfortunate infections, a complete cure is possible, without any big danger if appropriate treatment is taken," Moon added.
The coronavirus is known to have a lower fatality rate than severe acute respiratory syndrome, although it appears to be more contagious.
He asked the public to continue their daily work and routine activities, without excessive anxiety and worrying.
"I would like to tell you that it's a way to prevent the difficulties of the national and local economies from deepening," he said, adding it's the government's duty to make all-out efforts to control the disease.
He then toured the Onyang traditional market in Asan apparently in a show of his commitment to focus on improving the people's livelihoods.
Earlier in the day, Moon made a trip to Jincheon for similar schedules.
He looked around the National Human Resources Development Institute, another tentative quarantine compound for Wuhan evacuees.
Moon assured local residents that his government will concentrate efforts not just on combating the viral outbreak itself but also on minimizing its impact on the local economy.
"It's natural that local residents feel anxiety," Moon said.
Nonetheless, they "warmly" embraced the compatriots, treating them like "families and brothers," the president said.
"I thank you all once again," he said, taking note of the role of provincial and county authorities in the process.
Moon pledged that his administration will "make maximum efforts" and take "various measures" in cooperation with the local governments to prevent the pandemic from having negative effects on the regions' economy.
The president's visit to the regions reflects his concerns not only about quarantine measures related to the virus but also the pandemic's impact on the local economy, according to a Cheong Wa Dae official. (Yonhap)