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South Korea COVID-19 cases exceed 2,000

South Korea COVID-19 cases exceed 2,000

People wait in line to buy face masks from a post office near the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu on February 27, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Jung Yeon-je)

SEOUL: South Korea reported 571 coronavirus cases on Friday (Feb 28), taking its total - the highest in the world outside China - to 2,337, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

More than 90 per cent of the new cases were in Daegu - the city at the epicentre of the outbreak in South Korea - and the neighbouring North Gyeongsang province, it added.

To date, 13 people in South Korea have died after contracting COVID-19.

READ: Shincheonji - The secretive sect in South Korea's COVID-19 outbreak

Explore: Real-time interactive map of all the confirmed cases reported around the world

South Korea's total is expected to increase further after checks began on more than 210,000 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive entity often accused of being a cult that is linked to around half of the country's cases.

A 61-year-old female member developed a fever on Feb 10, but attended at least four church services in Daegu - South Korea's fourth-largest city with a population of 2.5 million - before being diagnosed.

Daegu mayor Kwon Young-jin said the city's total could reach as many as 3,000 in the coming days as more test results on Shincheonji members come through, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

"The next one week will be the tipping point," he said.

READ: World scrambles to contain COVID-19 as infections spread

READ: More COVID-19 new infections outside China than inside: WHO

The coronavirus, which originated in China, has rapidly spread to more than 50 other countries and territories. 

China's central Hubei province had 318 new confirmed cases on Friday, down from 409 cases a day earlier and the lowest since Jan 24.

That brings the total accumulated number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 78,824.

Countries including the United States have issued travel advisories urging citizens to "reconsider travel" to South Korea.

Both US and South Korean forces postponed a joint drill on Thursday, after Seoul declared its highest "severe" alert level over the virus.

The outbreak has prompted South Korean boy band BTS to cancel its scheduled April concerts in Seoul, according to its music label, Big Hit Entertainment.

BTS had scheduled a "MAP OF THE SOUL TOUR - SEOUL" tour for April 11, 12, 18 and 19 at Seoul's Olympic Stadium.

Hyundai Motor shut down a factory in South Korea on Friday after a worker tested positive for the new coronavirus, disrupting production of popular models such as Palisade sport utility vehicle.

South Korea's tech giant Samsung Electronics shut down a phone factory in the southeastern city of Gumi over the past weekend after one of its workers tested positive. It resumed production on Monday.

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Source: AGENCIES/ic


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