S.Korea raises disease alert to top level as virus cases soar
S.Korea raises disease alert to top level as virus cases soar
The mayor of Daegu- South Korea's fourth-biggest city with a population of over 2.5 million- has advised residents to stay indoorsMore
26 February, 2020, 14:55
Of the 123 new cases, 75 are related to worship services of the Shincheonji church in Daegu, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
The Island of Jeju, a spot popular with domestic and worldwide tourists, also recorded its first case, a single infection.
Meanwhile, in a bid to combat the infection, the US State Department on February 22 raised its travel advisory to South Korea, joining other countries who are bolstering their vigilance against the country's recent spike in the number of infections.
World Health Organization (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday that there was still a chance to contain the Covid-19 virus, "but the window of opportunity is narrowing".
Daegu, where the 2.5 million inhabitants have been asked to stay indoors, and neighboring Cheongdo were designated as a "special management zone" on Friday.
Chung also said the list of Daegu Shincheonji Church of Jesus' congregation would be secured and concerned individuals would be placed under home quarantine and tested for the virus.
However the health authorities said they would maintain the virus alert at the "orange" level, the third-highest, but carry out the virus response with an urgency of the "red" level, the second-highest.
The multiplying caseload in South Korea showed the ease with which the illness, called Covid-19, can spread.
There are 13 other confirmed cases of coronavirus at the same hospital.
Korea is entering into the early phase of nationwide spread of the virus, as seen in the outbreaks in 17 provinces and large cities, including Jeju, Chungcheong and Jeolla provinces as well as Busan and Sejong.
"With measures they can take, which is proportionate to the public health risk they have, I think the number of cases are really manageable, and I hope South Korea will do everything to contain this outbreak at this early stage".
Usually bustling city centre streets of Daegu were almost deserted on Friday as people wearing face masks lined up at clinics seeking testing.
A dozen towns in northern Italy are effectively locked down after the deaths of two people infected with the new virus from China and a growing cluster of cases with no direct links to the origin of the outbreak overseas. Eight hundred area schools, due to start a new academic year on March 2, delayed their openings by a week.
In the capital Seoul, major city centre rallies were banned, and fears of the virus led many to avoid shops and restaurants and instead eat at home and order necessities online.
The first three cases in the country's 600,000-member military also sprang up on separate bases on Friday, bringing added concern.
"Travel in and around Daegu is highly discouraged unless absolutely necessary", the garrison said Thursday in a Facebook post. The sailor visited Daegu from February 13 to 18.
More than half the new cases are linked to a church in the southeastern city of Daegu after a 61-year-old woman known as "Patient 31" who attended services there tested positive for the virus last week.
In some positive news, China's daily count fell to 397 cases, though another 109 people died of the disease. China has reported 76,936 cases and 2,442 deaths, according to data through Saturday.
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