(ATTN: UPDATES with number of eligible voters in 4th para; CLARIFIES details of the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam)
SEOUL, March 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's election watchdog said Thursday that it has decided to stop the absentee ballot process for next month's general elections for citizens living in Italy and 16 other countries and territories due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The National Election Commission said the process will be suspended at 23 South Korean diplomatic missions until April 6, meaning that eligible South Korean voters cannot cast their absentee ballots for the April 15 elections.
The 17 other locations are Germany, Spain, Ireland, Britain, the Kyrgyz Republic, France, Ghana, South Africa, Nepal, India, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Ecuador, Honduras, Colombia and the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.
The number of eligible voters in the affected countries and territories stands at 18,392.
Last week, the election watchdog stopped the absentee ballot process at the South Korean Consulate General in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the COVID-19 was first reported in late December.