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S. Korea ups anti-virus fight in Daegu and neighboring region as cases near 900

S. Korea ups anti-virus fight in Daegu and neighboring region as cases near 900

Feb 25, 2020

Seoul (South Korea) Feb 25: With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases nearing 900 on Tuesday, South Korea vowed to maximize its containment measures in the southeastern city of Daegu and neighboring North Gyeongsang Province, where 724 cases have been reported so far.
Sixty additional cases reported Tuesday morning brought the nation's total infections to 893, according to the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). But the increase in the morning update was smaller than the spike of 161 new cases a day earlier.
Two clusters of infections -- at a branch of a religious sect in the southeastern city of Daegu and a hospital in the neighboring county of Cheongdo -- have continued to expand, taking up 69 percent, or 614 cases, of the total cases in the country.
Earlier in the day, the government, the ruling Democratic Party and the presidential office decided to implement stepped-up containment measures in Daegu and North Gyeongsang but said there is no lockdown in the regions.
The government has designated Daegu and the adjacent county of Cheongdo as "special care zones" to better cope with the outbreak of COVID-19.
So far, nine people have died in South Korea from the new virus that emerged in China.
The ninth victim, a 68-year-old woman, was hospitalized in Chilgok, a town in North Gyeongsang Province, due to pneumonia on Sunday and tested positive for the virus on Monday before she died of respiratory failure, health authorities said.
The woman had come into contact with a confirmed carrier linked to the Daegu church, KCDC Director Jung Eun-kyeong told a daily press briefing.
Six out of the nine deaths are connected to the Cheongdo hospital, where over 110 people were confirmed to have been infected, Jung said.
Of the 60 new cases, 49 are in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and neighboring North Gyeongsang Province. Sixteen new cases were confirmed in Daegu, and 33 new cases were reported in North Gyeongsang Province.
Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told reporters that five pneumonia patients in Daegu tested positive for the virus when authorities checked all pneumonia patients in the city in a bid to swiftly find the sick and isolate them.
So far, 514 pneumonia patients have been checked, with 482 testing negative, Kim said. Authorities are checking the remaining 27 pneumonia patients, Kim said.
The health authorities said they plan to test all followers of Shincheonji Church of Jejus as about 56 percent of the all confirmed virus cases in the country are traced to the minor religious sect's worship services in Daegu.
The Shincheonji church has agreed to provide a list of its worshippers, estimated at 200,000, and their contact numbers to support state quarantine efforts to curb the fast spread of COVID-19.
Nearly all major provinces and cities have reported some infections, with Seoul reporting another two cases, the KCDC said.
In another worrisome development, the cumulative number of virus patients in Busan -- at 3.5 million people, South Korea's second-largest city -- rose to 38, with 22 patients linked to a Christian church in the Dongnae district.
The 22 patients of the Oncheon church in Busan attended a three-day church retreat that ended on Feb. 17, officials said. It is still unclear how they were infected with the virus.
A total of 76 confirmed cases in Seoul and neighboring Gyeonggi Province have been confirmed, but most cases were linked to people who had traveled overseas, the KCDC said.
Since raising the virus alert level to "red," the highest level, on Sunday, health authorities have focused on halting the spread of the virus in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province.
South Korea confirmed its first new coronavirus case from a Chinese woman from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, on Jan. 20.
South Korea has released 22 fully recovered novel coronavirus patients from hospitals as of Tuesday morning, the KCDC said.
The number of people being checked for the virus and under quarantine came to 13,273, it added. The country has tested a total of 35,823 suspected cases, with 22,550 testing negative.
Source: Yonhap News Agency