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South Korea unveils US$8.5 billion package to fight new COVID-19 wave

South Korea unveils US$8.5 billion package to fight new COVID-19 wave

Workers wearing protective gear disinfect an arrival gate amid the COVID-19 pandemic at the Incheon International Airport in South Korea on De 28, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

SEOUL: South Korea unveiled a fresh 9.3 trillion won (US$8.49 billion) package on Tuesday (Dec 29) to support small businesses hit by a third wave of COVID-19 and those vulnerable to unemployment due to the outbreak.

Of the total package, 5.6 trillion won will be used to fund cash handouts to coronavirus-struck small businesses, temporary or freelance workers and taxi drivers affected by the prolonged pandemic, the finance ministry said.

About 2.9 trillion won will be used to support small- and medium-size enterprises including ski resorts and hotels, and to keep more Koreans in jobs.

READ: South Korea reports biggest daily death toll so far

The South Korean government has added new restrictions this week such as banning on gatherings of more than four people and suspending ski resorts and tourist sports, aimed at stopping the virus spread during Christmas and New Year holidays.

Another 0.8 trillion won is aimed at strengthening the public health system.

The ministry said the cash handouts will be offered starting from Jan 11, and expects that the latest measures could help around a total 5.8 million people.

READ: South Korea to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine efforts as first UK variant detected

On Monday, the country vowed to speed up efforts to launch a coronavirus vaccination programme as it continued to report near-record daily cases and discovered its first cases of the coronavirus variant linked to Britain.

Meanwhile, the US$8.5 billion package will be funded by the finance ministry's reserve fund, leftover budget for the year as well as 2021 budget, the ministry said in a statement.

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Source: Reuters/aj

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