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[Newsmaker] Finance minister, other chiefs get COVID-19 tests

A hearse carrying the coffin of late Samsung Group chief Lee Kun-hee and other vehicles exit Samsung Electronics' chip plant in Hwaseong, south of Seoul, last Wednesday as Samsung employees line up to mourn the death of their longtime chairman. (Yonhap)
A hearse carrying the coffin of late Samsung Group chief Lee Kun-hee and other vehicles exit Samsung Electronics' chip plant in Hwaseong, south of Seoul, last Wednesday as Samsung employees line up to mourn the death of their longtime chairman. (Yonhap)
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki and scores of other chiefs of governmental and private organizations got tested for the coronavirus Wednesday at the health authorities’ request. Results were not known as of press time.

Health authorities earlier in the day requested that those who were at the late Samsung chairman’s wake on Oct. 26 get tested for COVID-19 after a member of the press who also attended was confirmed to have the virus.

In an emergency text message sent Wednesday, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters asked members of the press and visitors who were in the lobby or outside the entrance to the funeral parlor of the Samsung Seoul Hospital in Gangnam-gu on Oct. 26 to get tested.

Among the recipients of that message were two chiefs of the nation’s financial market and trade watchdogs -- Eun Sung-soo of the Financial Services Commission and Joh Sung-wook of the Korea Fair Trade Commission. Both were attending a meeting of the parliament’s National Policy Committee when the request came in. The meeting was adjourned.

Jeju Province Gov. Won Hee-ryong and Gyeonggi Province Superintendent of Education Lee Jae-jung suspended their scheduled activities after they got swabbed for the coronavirus. They both attended the Samsung chief’s wake.

Although Samsung Group said the wake and the funeral would be private, dozens of reporters gathered at the funeral parlor as the country’s politicians and tycoons, as well as people from its cultural, arts and sports communities, dropped by to offer their condolences to the late Chairman Lee Kun-hee.

A reporter from the Korea Economic Daily, who was at the wake, was confirmed to have COVID-19 on Monday, and two other reporters from the same newspaper were diagnosed Tuesday.

As one of the two reporters diagnosed Tuesday works at the Seoul city government’s press room, the city government had 270 staff and reporters who sit in its press room tested for COVID-19.

An audio engineer from another media company stationed at the Seoul city government was confirmed positive Wednesday morning.

Samsung Group Chairman Lee died Oct. 25, and his wake was held at the Samsung Seoul Hospital for four days through Oct. 28.

Dozens of members of the press who were in contact with the Korea Economic Daily reporter are currently awaiting test results.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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