The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— US deaths from coronavirus surpass 100,000 mark.
— Long Island is the latest region of New York to begin easing restrictions put in place to curb the coronavirus.
— Professional sports can resume in Pennsylvania.
— Italy’s overall death toll surpasses 33,000.
— Walt Disney World set to open again in July.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s central bank lowered its policy rate to an all-time low of 0.5% to soften the pandemic’s shock to the country’s trade-dependent economy, which it says may shrink for the first time in 22 years.
The Bank of Korea’s rate cut on Thursday came about two months after it executed its first emergency rate cut since 2008 to bring the policy rate to 0.75%.
The bank also adjusted its annual growth outlook from a 2.1% expansion to a 0.2% contraction. The country’s economy hasn’t seen an annual contraction since 1998, when it was in the midst of a crippling financial crisis.
By lowering borrowing costs, the bank intends to ease the volatility in financial markets and help pump money into the economy.
But some experts say it’s unclear whether traditional financial tools to boost money supplies would be effective now when the pandemic has damaged both supply and demand.
The Bank of Korea said last month that South Korea’s economy shrank 1.4% during the first three months of the year, the worst contraction since late-2008. Domestic consumption took a hit as more people stayed home to avoid virus transmissions, while exports also shrank amid worldwide lockdowns.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 79 new cases of COVID-19, its biggest daily jump in more than 50 days, a huge setback that threatens to erase some of the country’s hard-won gains against the virus.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday said 67 of the new cases were reported from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people live. The national totals were at 11,344 cases and 269 deaths.
The country had reported 40 new cases on Wednesday, which was its highest figure in 49 days.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo during a virus meeting on Thursday pleaded all residents in the greater capital area to avoid unnecessary gatherings and urged companies keep sick employees off work.
At least 69 infections so far have been linked to workers at a massive warehouse operated by local e-commerce giant Coupang. Health authorities say the company likely didn’t enforce preventive measures such as masks at the facility in Bucheon, near Seoul, and may have had employees working even when…