SEOUL (Yonhap) Five schools in eastern Seoul suspended classes Thursday in an emergency measure to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

Four elementary schools and one middle school in the Songpa Ward and nearby Gangdong Ward districts closed following a report that South Korea's 19th confirmed patient with the virus resides in Songpa.

A total of 42 schools in Seoul's northeastern districts of Seongbuk Ward and Jungnang Ward that are within 1 kilometer of where the confirmed patient had stayed also entered a weeklong forced hiatus of classes earlier in the day.

The move comes after the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education ordered schools within 1 kilometer of confirmed patients' routes to suspend classes.

The Ministry of Education has also advised universities to postpone the new school term by up to four weeks as part of precautionary measures.

On Thursday, South Korea reported four more cases of infection, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 23.

SEOUL (Yonhap) South Korea's government will spend 2.9 trillion won (US$2.46 billion) over the next seven years on nurturing world class master's and doctoral degree holders in new industries and basic academic fields, the Ministry of Education said Thursday.

The long term human resources development program was announced by the ministry and the National Research Foundation of Korea as part of Phase Four of the Brain Korea 21 project.

Brain Korea 21, also known as BK21, is a representative university support project initiated by the ministry to offer scholarships and research expenses to outstanding scholars attending master's and doctoral degree courses.

Phase One and Two of BK21 were completed in 2005 and 2012, respectively, while its third phase begun in 2013 is set to expire this year.

Starting in September this year, state research subsidies will be offered to new recipients until 2027 under the fourth phase of BK21, the ministry explained.

During the project's Phase Four, 408 billion won will be spent to support 19,000 master's and doctoral degree holders annually, it said, adding the number of recipients increased from 17,000 during the third phase.

State research subsidies will be divided into two fields basic academic fields and new industries, and fusion and convergence sectors.

In the basic academic fields, 12,600 scholars from 194 research groups and 174 research teams will be supported. In the new industries and convergence fields, 6,400 scholars from 207 research groups will be provided with research subsidies.

The ministry said its evaluation of candidate recipients of subsidies will be mainly focused on the quality, not quantity, of their research projects.

Source: Yonhap News Agency