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Vice FM discusses worsening pandemic in Latin America with mission chiefs


Second Vice Foreign Minister Lee Tae-ho held a videoconference with South Korean diplomatic mission chiefs in Latin America to discuss ways to ensure the health and safety of the country's citizens in the region facing a worsening of the coronavirus outbreak, the ministry said Wednesday.

The videoconference, attended by ambassadors to Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, Chile and Peru, came as the COVID-19 outbreaks in those countries are getting more serious. The World Health Organization has announced the Latin American region is a new epicenter of the virus outbreak after China.

In the video talks, Lee called for efforts to make sure the nationals are provided with necessary assistance, such as being properly informed of preventive measures and receiving help if they want to return home. He also called for the missions to continue their support for businesspeople.

About 48,000 South Korean nationals live in Sao Paulo, 23,000 in Argentina, 12,000 in Mexico and 5,500 in Guatemala. The tallies for the rest of the countries stand at from a few hundreds to a couple of thousands.

According to the ministry, 1,050 South Koreans from 22 countries in Latin America have returned home since the countries closed borders and went under lockdowns over the pandemic.

Brazil is the second after the United States globally in terms of infection caseloads and deaths. It has reported more than 923,180 infections, with over 45,240 fatalities. Peru, whose infection cases are third-highest after Brazil and Mexico, has around 10,000 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, according to news reports. (Yonhap)