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S. Korea confirms 144 more cases of COVID-19, 977 in total

(Xinhua)    11:04, February 26, 2020

Aerial photo shows medical workers working at the Daenam Hospital, which is one of the clusters of infections that led to the recent viral spread, in Cheongdo County, South Korea, Feb. 24, 2020. South Korea confirmed 144 more cases of the COVID-19 on Tuesday, raising the total number of infections to 977, and the death toll rose to 10. (Xinhua)

SEOUL, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- South Korea confirmed 144 more cases of the COVID-19 on Tuesday, raising the total number of infections to 977, and the death toll rose to 10.

As of 4:00 p.m. local time, the number of infected patients totaled 977, up 144 from the prior day. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has updated the data twice a day at 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. local time.

The virus infections soared for the past week, with 802 new cases reported from Wednesday to Monday. The country raised its four-tier virus alert to the highest "red" level on Sunday.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited the country's southeastern city of Daegu, where more than half of the virus infections were reported, saying the viral spread within and beyond the southeastern region must be contained.

"What matters is time and speed. Within this week, a clear point of inflection must be created in the growing trend of confirmed patients," Moon said during a special meeting in Daegu with relevant ministers and the representatives of Daegu, according to the presidential Blue House.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun was scheduled to stay in Daegu from Tuesday night to spearhead the government's quarantine efforts in Daegu, about 300 km southeast of the capital Seoul, and its surrounding North Gyeongsang province.

Senior government and Blue House officials and the ruling Democratic Party leaders had an emergency meeting in Seoul, vowing to take "maximum" quarantine steps in the southeastern region and push for a supplementary budget to financially support small firms and microbusiness owners.

President Moon ordered government officials on Monday to draw up the extra budget to support the southeastern region. The Moon government's 2020 budget was a record 512.5 trillion won (422.8 billion U.S. dollars).

Of the total patients, 791 were residents in Daegu and North Gyeongsang province. The figures for Seoul, Gyeonggi province and the southeastern port city of Busan were 40, 42 and 43 respectively.

Two clusters of infections in the southeastern region led to the recent viral spread.

As of Tuesday morning, 501 cases were linked to the church services of a minor religious group, called Sincheonji, in Daegu. It accounted for 56.1 percent of the total.

The KCDC planned to complete the test of more than 1,200 Sincheonji followers of the Daegu branch traced to the church services, who showed infection symptoms, until Wednesday.

The health authorities recommended all of about 200,000 Sincheon followers nationwide to stay at home and refrain from outside activity, ordering the followers of the Daegu branch to be placed under self-quarantine.

The Seoul city government issued an emergency administrative decree to ban any gathering relevant to Sincheonji, while the local government of its surrounding Gyeonggi province forcibly closed down facilities linked to Sincheonji.

Meanwhile, the other 113 cases were traced to Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo county, just south of Daegu. Test for all of 652 patients and medical staff was completed as almost all the patients at the hospital's psychiatric ward tested positive for the virus.

One more death was confirmed in North Gyeongsang province, lifting the death toll to 10. Seven of the deaths were linked to the hospital.

The number of patients in critical conditions increased to six, raising the possibility for further deaths.

The government designated Deagu and Cheongdo as a "special care zone" Friday, while protest rallies were banned in downtown areas of Seoul.

Since Jan. 3, the country has tested more than 40,000 people, among whom 25,447 tested negative for the COVID-19 virus and 13,880 were being checked.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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