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South Korean Voters Turn Out Amid Pandemic To Boost Ruling Party

Despite the coronavirus, voters in South Korea roundly backed the ruling party in the highest election turnout in 28 years.
Posted at 3:22 PM, Apr 16, 2020

Amid a global pandemic, the highest percentage of voters in 28 years went to the polls in South Korea on Tuesday. And they delivered a vote of confidence to the governing party for its response to the coronavirus.

President Moon Jae-in's party and political allies combined to win 180 seats in the 300-member National Assembly.

More than 66 percent of eligible South Korean voters cast their ballots. 

Masked voters lined up three feet apart. Hospitalized patients voted by mail. And after most polls closed, many people in quarantine were carefully ushered out - so they too could vote.

The landslide win for Moon's party was seen as affirmation of the country's significant success in undertaking widespread testing and infection suppression measures. South Korea, with nearly 52 million people, has had fewer than 11,000 coronavirus cases and only 229 deaths as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins.  

South Korea once had the world's 2nd largest outbreak behind China, with more than 800 new cases a day in February. By this week, the new infection rate was down to 40 cases daily.

Yet new concerns are being raised. The Korean Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that more than 140 people who had the virus have been reinfected. More than one-third of reinfections involved people in their 20s or 30s.

A leading epidemiologist at Seoul National University called the findings "disturbing" but said reoccurring infections remain unlikely. But just as Korea's coronavirus response became a model, this discovery is getting attention.

Vanderbilt University infectious disease specialist William Schaffner says it may provide a warning for other countries on patient follow-up after the acute phase of the virus. He said: "This could radically change what we are doing."

Contains footage from CNN.