SEOUL - South Korea confirmed 594 more coronavirus cases on Saturday (Feb 29), the biggest increase to date for the country and taking the national total to 2,931 infections with three additional deaths.
More than 90 per cent of the new cases were in Daegu, the centre of the country’s outbreak, and its neighbouring North Gyeongsang province, the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.
Three women in the Daegu area died of the illness, taking the national toll to 16, the statement added. One of the victims was aged in her 90s.
The national total is expected to rise further with screening of 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.
The streets of Daegu – South Korea’s fourth-largest city with 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 have urged the public to exercise caution and anyone with a fever or respiratory symptoms to stay home.
But officials say they are not considering a citywide quarantine for the city in the manner of the lockdown imposed on the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged.
“Please refrain from holding big outdoor meetings or indoor religious assemblies,” Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a Saturday a meeting in Daegu, where he is leading the government’s response.
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