Hyundai Motor helps to fight virus

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Hyundai Motor helps to fight virus

Hyundai Motor, the nation’s leading automaker, is rolling up its sleeves to help the nation stop the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreak from spreading.

Most of the nation’s major conglomerates like Samsung have been focusing on improving hygienic conditions to protect their employees and customers. Hyundai is the first conglomerate to help local communities after it received an order from Chairman Chung Mong-koo, who said on Monday, “Mobilize every possible resource to stop MERS spreading to protect not only our business areas but also the nation.”

The company distributed about 50,000 antibacterial masks to local communities and helped fumigation of taxis.

With 24 local divisions nationwide, the company Tuesday said it has infrastructure available for anti-MERS activities including local dealerships. The company distributed 55,000 masks to 15 local communities including Seoul and Gyeonggi. The masks were distributed to Hyundai staff and to customers visiting Hyundai shops for free. The company also said it has planned to disinfect all of its facilities including repair centers, test drive centers, as well as dealerships this month.

The Hyundai chief also decided to sterilize 10,000 taxis managed by companies nationwide for free to prevent taxis becoming transmission routes for the virus. The company said it completed the disinfection of 800 taxis in the southern Gyeonggi regions including Pyeongtaek, Suwon and Ansung, on Monday. Pyeongtaek is the original ground zero of the MERS outbreak.

“We are telling our employees to keep themselves clean at all times to avoid MERS,” said a spokesman of Hyundai Motor.

Hyundai’s sister company Kia Motors also started sterilization operations in the Gwangju area starting Monday including Gwangcheon, Naebang, Yudeok and Hwajeong-dong, which will be host to participants in the Gwangju Universiade that kicks off July 3. The company said it will sterilize those areas once a week until July 20. “We wanted to protect the local community from MERS and also help the city host the universiade event successfully,” said a Kia spokesman.

Telecoms also jumped into anti-MERS acitivities. LG U+ said Tuesday it provided 1 million masks and distributed them for free from its 1,500 shops nationwide. When an engineer visits customers’ homes on service calls, they have been ordered to disinfect the customers’ door knobs, TV remote controls and computers using MD125, a bactericide approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

The nation’s three major mobile carriers - LG U+, SK Telecom and KT - also said they will let people under quarantine use their data and voice call services for free in June.

The outbreak of MERS directly affected the country’s largest company, Samsung Electronics, as a worker in his 30s on a Suwon production line was confirmed to have contracted the possibly lethal virus. The company announced Monday that the worker was among several confirmed cases announced by Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday.

Samsung Electronics is keeping 77 workers who came into contact with the man isolated to monitor their conditions.

“After we learned about the case, we’ve disinfected places where the infected worker worked and stayed three times,” a representative of Samsung Electronics said. “We also formed an emergency division that operates around the clock and ordered the division to examine the state of his colleagues.”


BY KWON SANG-SOO, KIM YOUNG-MIN [kwon.sangsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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