South Korea COVID-19 cases exceeds 1,200; US soldier among new cases

South Korea COVID-19 cases exceeds 1,200; US soldier among new cases

South Korea disinfection virus
Workers from the Korea Pest Control Association spray disinfectant as part of preventive measures against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (Photo: AFP/Yonhap) 

SEOUL: South Korea's COVID-19 case total jumped well into four figures on Wednesday (Feb 26) as authorities reported another 115 coronavirus cases on Wednesday afternoon.

This brings its total tally to 1,261, according to Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier on Wednesday morning, KCDC had reported 169 new infections, including a US soldier.

A twelfth death from the virus was also reported on Wednesday, according to the Joongang Ilbo newspaper.

The vast majority of the new infections were in Daegu, the country's fourth-largest city and the epicentre of the outbreak, and the neighbouring province of North Gyeongsang.

READ: Singapore to bar visitors with recent travel history to South Korea's COVID-19 outbreak epicentres Daegu and Cheongdo

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The US military reported its first case on Wednesday, a 23-year-old soldier based in Camp Carroll, about 20km from Daegu. The camp is also near a disability centre that has had its own outbreak of the virus.

The infections have been linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, an entity often accused of being a cult.

A 61-year-old female member developed a fever on Feb 10, but attended at least four church services in Daegu before being diagnosed.

A South Korean health official sprays disinfectant in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji
A South Korean health official sprays disinfectant in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus AFP/Jung Yeon-je

Shincheonji followers have been advised by authorities to refrain from going outside "as much as possible".

With public criticism growing, Shincheonji's founder Lee Man-hee said the group would provide the government a list of all its members to have them tested for the virus.

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

READ: World 'simply not ready' for COVID-19 spread: WHO-China mission chief

The streets of Daegu – which has a population of 2.5 million – have been largely deserted for days, apart from long queues at the few shops with masks for sale.

Authorities urged the public to exercise extra caution, advising citizens to stay home if they have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

South Korea's parliament cancelled sessions on Tuesday as it closed for cleaning after confirmation a person with the coronavirus had attended a meeting last week.

Scores of events have been cancelled or postponed as the outbreak has spread in the world's 12th-largest economy, from K-pop concerts to the start of the K-league football season, with casualties on Tuesday including the World Team Table Tennis championships.

"The government will mobilise all resources and means" to try to control the outbreak, Prime Minster Chung Sye-kyun told a meeting in Daegu, where he is leading the government response, Yonhap news agency reported.

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Source: AFP/ad

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