World / Asia-Pacific

S Korean president orders all measures to minimize MERS impact on economy

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-06-09 15:32

SEOUL -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye ordered government officials Tuesday to take all measures to minimize the negative impact of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on the economy.

Park said at a cabinet meeting that the MERS crisis should not act as a factor to contract the economy, calling for people to participate in economic activity without too much worries as the viral disease is controllable.

The MERS infection cases surged to 95 Tuesday since the first case was reported on May 20. People have refrained from outside activities for fear of the MERS contagion, and some tourists, especially from China, have cancelled their travel plan to the country.

It has boosted concerns that the already lackluster economy may slow down further due to the negative impact from the viral disease.

Exports, which account for about half of the economy, showed an accelerating downward trend this year from a 0.9 percent fall in January to declines of 3.3 percent in February, 4.3 percent in March, 8.1 percent in April and 10.9 percent in May each.

Production in all industries fell for two straight months, and the headline inflation stayed at a zero-percent level for six straight months. Major discount chains and department stores have shown negative signs in sales since the MERS crisis broke out.

Park said that if these situations go on, economic conditions of ordinary people, including the self-employed, will be worrying to become harder, instructing officials to take "all proactive measures" to minimize the negative impact of the MERS on the economy.

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