The government confirmed 110 more cases of the new coronavirus on Friday, bringing the total to 7,979.
During the day, 177 patients left the hospital fully recovered, pushing up the total of recovered patients to 510. Friday marked the first day when the number of cured patients exceeded newly confirmed cases since Korea saw its first case on Jan. 20.
Sixty-seven people have died so far from COVID-19.
Seoul's virus caseload rose by 13 to 225 and Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds Seoul, saw its confirmed cases climb by seven to 185. Incheon, west of Seoul, reported two new cases, bringing the city's total infections to 27. Health officials are focusing on smaller cluster infections in the capital city and its vicinity, as shown by the group infection at a call center in southwestern Seoul.
The number of new coronavirus patients in the Government Office Complex in Sejong increased by 14 to a total of 22. According to Sejong municipal officials, one employee at the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs and nine employees at the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries were confirmed of infection.
Officials in Daegu, the southeastern city that has long emerged as the virus’ epicenter in Korea, said epidemiological investigators, municipal government officials and investigation department police officers forced their way into the Shincheonji Church through its back door on Thursday, to confirm whether the religious sect concealed information regarding the member list and their residences.
The team secured and focused on verifying various information and operation plan of the church.
"We could not wait any longer for the search and seizure, and had to launch the administrative investigation," Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin said. "Our purpose was to secure evidence to verify the suspicion of the church concealing information required for epidemiological investigation.”
Daegu officials said most of the 1,400 Shincheonji church members in the city took COVID-19 tests with two of them wanting to receive the test, and one member's whereabouts remaining under probe.
The Moon Jae-in administration is likely to declare Daegu and surrounding North Gyeongsang Province as a “special disaster area” this weekend, officials said.
Meanwhile, the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) in Daejeon has developed a dry detoxifier prototype that can sterilize the negative pressure room that treats COVID-19 patients.
From December 2013 to December 2016, ADD developed the dry detoxifier with an investment of 3.56 billion won ($2.91 million). This equipment detoxifies the inner platform of electronic equipment, optical gear, vehicles, and airplanes when chemical agents contaminate them.
As the focus of global outbreaks shifts from Asia to Europe, Italy confirmed 2,651 new cases to push up the total to 15,113. The number of deaths also increased 189 to a total of 1,016 in the European country.
Foreign experts attributed the sharp rise to the world's second-largest elderly population in Italy, frequent exchanges with China, and the Rome government's initially slow response.
Sixty percent of the confirmed cases in Italy are clustered in northern Lombardy, where 80,000 Chinese live. Among them, many Chinese might have visited China during the most famous Chinese holiday, Spring Festival, in late January.
As of midnight Thursday in Korea, the number of people tested for COVID-19 totaled 248,647, aside from the confirmed 7,979 patients. Among the total, 230,707 showed a negative response with the results of the other 17,940 under analysis. The confirmation rate is 3.5 percent, and the fatality rate remains at 0.8 percent.
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