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S. Korea's virus cases near 1,300, tests on church followers start

26 February 2020 16:12
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S. Korea's virus cases near 1,300, tests on church followers start

SEOUL. KAZINFORM South Korea's confirmed cases of the new coronavirus approached 1,300 on Wednesday as health authorities started testing about 210,000 followers of a religious sect at the center of rapid infections here.

The 284 additional cases, the sharpest daily surge so far, brought the total infections to 1,261 from only 51 a week ago, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), Yonhap reports.

South Korea confirmed its first new coronavirus case in a Chinese woman from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, on Jan. 20.

So far, 12 people have died in South Korea from the new virus that emerged in China, including a 73-year-old Korean man who was a follower of the religious sect in the southeastern city of Daegu and a 36-year-old Mongolian national who was hospitalized for a liver transplant here.

The number of new cases is expected to jump in the coming days as health authorities began testing members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus at the center of the rapid spread in other provinces.

By Wednesday, health authorities plan to complete the tests on about 1,300 members of the religious sect, out of some 9,000 believers belonging to the Daegu church, Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told reporters.

The government will secure 1,600 beds in Daegu and its neighboring areas by Sunday to cope with an anticipated surge in the number of people infected, Kim said.

The government also plans to send more health workers to Daegu, with 205 doctors and nurses volunteering to work in the virus-hit city, officials said.

The U.S. military in South Korea also said one of its soldiers tested positive for the new coronavirus, becoming the first U.S. soldier infected here.


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