Six DP lawmakers start self-quarantine

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Six DP lawmakers start self-quarantine

Six Demcratic Party (DP) lawmakers attend a meeting of party delegates in Daejeon on Aug. 18.  [NEWSIS]

Six Demcratic Party (DP) lawmakers attend a meeting of party delegates in Daejeon on Aug. 18. [NEWSIS]

 
Six lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party (DP) started self-isolation on Monday after coming into contact with an infected person at a party event in Daejeon last week.  
 
According to the DP, Reps. Hwang Un-ha, Lee Sang-min, Park Young-soon, Jo Seoung-lae, Park Beok-kye and Jang Chul-min, whose districts are in Daejeon Metropolitan City, were notified by the Daejeon Metropolitan City government to take coronavirus tests and start self-isolation.  
 
They all attended a meeting of delegates in Daejeon on Aug. 18. A reporter for an internet news outlet who covered the event tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday.  
 
The reporter started showing symptoms on Aug. 16. But she reportedly continued working and visited many public offices in the following days. She took the test on Sunday and was confirmed as a patient later that night.
 
After attending the event in Daejeon on Aug. 18, the six lawmakers returned to Seoul and actively participated in party meetings and National Assembly events before Daejeon municipal officials notified them of the confirmed infection on Monday.
 
“I came to the National Assembly [in Yeouido, western Seoul] this morning, but I was told to take the test,” Rep. Park told Newsis. “I took the test at the Yeongdeungpo Public Health Center. I and other participants of the event will all take tests.”  
 
Because the reporter visited many public offices in Daejeon and Sejong cities for the past eight days, Daejeon City Hall, Daejeon Metropolitan Education Office, Daejeon City Council, South Chungcheong Provincial Office and Sejong City Hall shut down their press centers and briefing rooms. The Daejeon Metropolitan Police Office is also planning to follow suit.
 
Daejeon Mayor Her Tae-jeong and Sejong Mayor Lee Choon-hee also stayed home on Monday.  
 
The National Assembly on Monday preemptively elevated its social distancing protocol for two weeks in order to save the legislature from the latest resurgence of coronavirus infections.  
 
“The National Assembly already implemented preventive measures as strong as Level 3 social distancing guidelines, [but] a daily average of 1,000 outside guests are still visiting the legislature buildings,” National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug was quoted as saying by his spokesman, Han Min-soo. “Because there are still blind spots, we need to upgrade our protocols.”  
 
According to Park’s order, the National Assembly will minimize outside visitors from Tuesday through Sept. 6. The number of staffers working inside the National Assembly compound will also be kept to minimum.  
 
During this period, conference rooms inside the Members’ Office Building and the National Assembly Library will be shut down.  
 
Visitors’ passes will not be issued during the two-week period and journalists not accredited with the legislature will be temporarily barred from entering the compound. The number of participants per press conference will also be limited.  
 
“The National Assembly employees and lawmakers’ aides will be asked to work from home or commute outside rush hours,” said Han. “Cafeterias will have three rotation times to reduce the number of people dining at the same time.”  
 
Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission said its head, Choi Young-ae, took the coronavirus test on Monday after reporting a high fever. The test results will be available Tuesday.
 
Choi is the second minister-level official to take the test and undergo self-quarantine. On March 16, Fisheries Minister Moon Seong-hyeok tested negative for the virus. He took the test and underwent self-quarantine after coming into contact with a patient who was a ministry employee.  
 
BY SER MYO-JA, ESTHER CHUNG  [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]  
 

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