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[Newsmaker] National Assembly shuts down after reporter tested positive


The National Assembly shut down its facilities and canceled all meetings scheduled for Thursday following a positive COVID-19 test by a beat reporter.

According to the National Assembly Secretariat, a photo reporter who covered a meeting of the Supreme Council of the ruling Democratic Party Korea on Wednesday morning received a positive test result later in the day. Some 50 people including lawmakers, key party officials and journalists attended the meeting.

Leaders of the Democratic party including Chairman Lee Hae-chan and Floor Leader Kim Tae-nyeon, were set to undergo diagnostic tests late Thursday. They entered self-isolation late Wednesday.

Contact tracing procedures by epidemiologists of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began Thursday to decide when the National Assembly should reopen.

Disinfection work was carried out at the main building of the National Assembly along with meeting rooms, lawmakers’ office building and a building for press late Wednesday after closing down the sites.

This is the second time the National Assembly has closed its facilities due to the coronavirus. The first time was on Feb. 24 when Shim Jae-cheol, former floor leader of the main opposition United Future Party, came into close contact with a person who infected with the virus during an open forum.

Nine standing committee meetings to review the 2019 budget were scheduled to take place on Thursday, but were called off.

The detection of the virus also created uncertainty over the opening of the regular session of the National Assembly, slated for Sept. 1.

Although its key leaders are in self-isolation, the ruling party said it would hold an online party convention on Saturday as planned.

“In accordance with the results of the COVID-19 tests conducted on party leaders today and health authorities‘ guidelines, we will make a full preparation to hold the convention with normalcy,” the party said in a statement.

On Aug. 19, the party announced that the convention will be moved online and be attended by only 47 party leaders and staffers at its main office in Yeoido. The party initially planned to hold the event at KSPO dome, located in Jamsil, Seoul, which has a capacity of 15,000.

By Park Han-na (