Welcome to Arirang News.
This is Key Kim.
We start with the top headlines at this hour.
With just a few days left until the end of the current social distancing measures in the country, South Korea plans to readjust the measures as early as Friday.
The current level two social distancing in the greater Seoul area and the level one-point-five in the rest of the country will end on Sunday.
The director general of the Central Disaster Management Headquarters, told reporters on Tuesday that the government is now accepting various opinions from small business owners on the upcoming readjustment.
Adding 357 new cases on Tuesday, the country has kept the 300 mark for two straight days.
But it's too early to lower the guard with an uptick expected in the infection number this week as well as cluster infections popping up especially in local factories.
Pointing out that following the quarantine measures is more crucial than ever, Seoul's prime minister has declared no financial aid for violators.
The "one strike out" policy forces facilities to close for two weeks if they violate the current quarantine guidelines even a single time.
Meanwhile, South Korea is just days away from the start of its vaccination rollout.
On February 26th, the AstraZeneca jabs will be given to residents and workers of nursing homes and rehabilitation centers around the country.
As of now, only those under 65 years old will receive the AstraZeneca shots.
Nearly 290,000 people have signed up for the shots... that's more than 93-percent of the eligible group... removing concerns over people's reluctance to get the COVID-19 vaccines, at least for now.
The day after that... on Saturday... Pfizer's jabs will start to be given to frontline medical workers.
Around 55,000 are due to be inoculated using the supply received from the COVAX facility.
The North Korean man who was captured near the inter-Korean border last week... was caught on South Korean military surveillance cameras ten times... but soldiers still failed to notice him.
According to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, the man reached the shore near the Unification Observatory in Goseong at around 1:05AM last Tuesday.
He then passed through a hidden drainage tunnel under the heavily fortified border fence. At around 1:40 AM the man started moving south... going some five kilometers along the country's east coast.
He did all this undetected until at around 4:12AM... one of the military's CCTV cameras spotted him.
After a three-hour manhunt, the man was finally captured by the military at around 7:27AM.
The Joint Chiefs said the man swam from North Korea towards the South.
It revealed that he is presumed to have been wearing a thick padded coat inside the diving suit, which covered his whole body except for his face.
The military unit was unaware of the presence of the drainage tunnel that's now presumed to have been used by the intruder.
The military also found fault in the unit for failing to take appropriate action... after the alert systems had detected human movement.
Regarding Iran's claims they reached an agreement with Seoul over frozen assets, South Korea's foreign affairs ministry said it needs to consult with the U.S. and other related countries to clear technical issues when sending the money.
It added that Tehran agreed on proposals by Seoul during a meeting between the South Korean ambassador to Iran, Ryu Jeong-hyun and Iran's central bank governor Abdolnasser Hemmati on Monday.
Iran's central bank said on Monday that it had reached an agreement with South Korea to unfreeze Iranian assets in South Korean banks after weeks of "intense negotiations".
It said specific destinations and the amounts were determined.
U.S. President Joe Biden has addressed the nation as the U.S. passed the grim figure of 500-thousand deaths from COVID-19…the largest figure in the world.
Biden, together with the vice-president and their spouses observed a moment of silence and a candlelit memorial on Monday evening.
The president called for all Americans to fight the virus together, emphasizing that the nation needs to remember all those lost to the pandemic.
He ordered all flags on federal grounds to be lowered to half mast for the next five days.
Currently, confirmed U.S. infections from COVID-19 stand at 28-point-8 million, also a global record.
Moving to weather forecast,
The nation is being gripped by the last cold snap of winter. Although temperatures are near the seasonal norms, the weather feels colder than the actual readings due to the mild weather we had over the weekend. The cold will start to ease off tomorrow daytime.
Meanwhile, dry conditions are worsening. Advisories have been expanded to more regions and almost half of the nation is under dry alerts. Dry and windy weather can easily create tinder dry crops and residue in forests. This increases the risk of accidental wildfires, so please be extra cautious.
Morning lows in Seoul and Daejeon will start off at minus 4 degrees Celsius.
The current temperatures are:
_______ degrees in Seoul
_______ degrees in Pyeongchang
_______ degrees in Daegu
_______ degrees in Busan
And _______ degrees on Jejudo Island
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