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Major plants, banks and supermarkets are closed

Hyundai Motor’s first case is reported and financial district is hit
Feb 29,2020
Hyundai Motor halted operations at a plant Friday after an employee was diagnosed with the new coronavirus. It is the first confirmed case at the company’s Korean operations.

The outbreak also forced banks and major retailers to close locations as the disease continues to roll through Korea.

The largest automaker by sales in Korea said Friday that its No. 2 plant in Ulsan was immediately stopped after the virus infection was confirmed. Disinfection procedures began immediately on the auto assembly plant, and Hyundai Motor said it is in an emergency meeting with its union to discuss follow-up measures.

The infected worker was employed at No. 2 plant’s paint shop along with around 300 others. The company is tracing the contacts of the infected individual, adding that the automaker will follow instructions from the authorities.

Hyundai Motor has already been struggling due to the lack of parts from China, and now with its first confirmed case, it is itself becoming a bottleneck in the supply chain.

The No. 2 plant manufactures the Palisade SUV and the GV80 SUV, some of Hyundai Motor’s best-selling models, and its Genesis luxury brand. Hyundai Motor has been closing its domestic factories for periods of time as the outbreak started disrupting its auto parts supply chain.

The infections spreading to Hyundai Motor was expected, since Ulsan sits near regions at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in Korea. Ulsan is a little more than 45 miles away from Daegu, seen as the center of the storm.

The production stoppage for Hyundai Motor may get bigger in the future as the coronavirus is threatening the operation of companies in Daegu and North Gyeongsang, which together are home to more than 20 percent of all auto parts manufacturers in Korea.

Also on Friday, the state-run Export-Import Bank of Korea said that one of its employees was confirmed with the new coronavirus at around 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. As the employee was stationed at its headquarters in Yeouido, western Seoul, the bank shut down that building while initiating emergency measures and quarantine activities. The bank is hoping to resume operations at the site Monday.

With the first confirmed case in Yeouido, often called the financial district of Seoul, other banks and a nearby mall also issued alerts and carried out quarantine measures. The neighboring Korea Development Bank ordered its employees to refrain meeting with Export-Import Bank workers and asked them to minimize inter-floor movements. IFC Seoul mall closed for the day after it learned that the an infected person visited recently.

Lotte Foods shut its headquarters in Yeongdeungpo District, western Seoul, Thursday, when it was notified that one of its employees was in close contact with an infected person Wednesday. It learned Friday that the employee had become infected.

Shinsegae Department Store’s Gangnam branch closed its doors Friday after an employee was found to be infected with the virus. A nearby outlet also shut its doors the same day and said it will resume operations Saturday.

DGB Daegu Bank closed its headquarters in Daegu and started disinfection, as one of its employees was confirmed to be infected the same day. Around 700 employees are working from home at this point.

BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]