Korea recorded 231 new cases of coronavirus, the largest single-day occurrence, to a total of 833 on Monday, with most of them confirmed in the southwestern city of Daegu and surrounding North Gyeongsang Province.
Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province saw a steep increase to a combined total of 681 centering on the messianic Christian sect of Shincheonji Church of Jesus and Daenam Hospital’s psychiatric ward.
As of Monday morning, the church turned out 456 confirmed cases, 59.8 percent of the total, and the hospital, an additional 113, or 11.8 percent. Together the two organizations accounted for 74.8 percent of the total 763.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that eight patients have died from the COVID-19. The eighth patient died while receiving treatment at Kyongpook University Hospital, and was also related to the Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, North Gyeongsang Province.
Vice Minister of Health and Welfare Kim Gang-lip told reporters, “If we fail to contain the spread of COVID-10 in Daegu, there is a high possibility that the virus could spread nationwide.” The coronavirus has spread to 17 large cities and provinces in Korea, entering into the early phase of national spread.
The government will conduct the COVID-19 test on 28,000 Daegu citizens who show cold symptoms for the next two weeks. The plan is to diagnose infected patients at an early stage where the symptoms are indistinguishable from cold.
A total of 37,000 citizens are going to be tested, including the group-infected Shincheonji Church members, who are undergoing complete enumeration for two weeks.
"We have estimated that the number will be about 28,000 people because the early symptoms of the COVID-19 are very similar to those of normal cold, and the number is close to our estimation based on past statistics," the KCDC said. The agency has secured the list of 9,535 church members who attended its services.
Also, the government is gathering Shincheonji members outside of Daegu because some of the service participants were from other areas.
As the nation upgrades its threat alarm to the highest level of “red,” the government called for people who have a high fever and show respiratory syndromes to refrain from attending schools or workplaces.
The nation’s armed forces have also confirmed 13 cases among soldiers by Monday, and four of them were infected reportedly inside the army. According to the Ministry of National Defenses (MND), eight COVID-19 patients are in the military, one in navy, another in the air force, and one more in marine. The ministry is conducting preventive quarantine in separate areas for each unit and checking symptoms twice a day.
The number of people being checked for the virus and under quarantine reached 8,725, the KCDC said. The country has tested 27,852 suspected cases with 19,127 testing negative. The health authorities released four more patients Monday after they were declared virus-free, bring the total number of fully recovered patients to 22.
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