On February 24, 161 new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) were confirmed in South Korea. This brings the number to 763 confirmed cases, with the nation now handling the deadly coronavirus outbreak on its highest infectious disease alert.
This alert, also known as ‘red alert,’ entails restricted public activities, including delaying school sessions after the ending of school holidays.
President Moon Jae-in has called for everyone to avoid both indoor and outdoor group events. “We have vividly witnessed how dangerous it is to have a mass meeting in an enclosed indoor place in terms of the spread of the contagious disease,” Moon said to reporters after an emergency meeting over the weekend. He also added that the next few days will be critical in containing the outbreak.
115 cases linked to church congregation
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) have linked 115 of the new cases to a church congregation in Daegu, a city located 148 miles (237 kilometers) southeast of the country’s capital, Seoul, which is so far the worst-hit city in South Korea.
A 61-year-old woman who attended the service, also identified as ‘Patient 31,’ had not traveled overseas and it remains unknown how she could have contracted the virus. More than 9,000 of the church members are currently in self-quarantine.
7 deaths reported
A 62-year-old man has died from the virus, bringing the toll to seven deaths reported in South Korea. The man died in a hospital situated in Cheongdo county, the second worst-hit area in the country after Daegu.
Most of the coronavirus infections in South Korea reportedly stem from two clusters – one at the church congregation in Daegu and another from a psychiatric ward at a hospital in Cheongdo.
The United States Department of State has raised its travel advisory to South Korea after the recent spike in the number of infections due to “sustained community spread.” This means that “people in South Korea have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known, and the spread is ongoing,” the State Department said.
The United Kingdom and Singapore have also issued travel warnings to the affected cities in South Korea. Israel has reportedly refused entry to non-Israelis after a flight landed from South Korea over the weekend.