South Korea reports 169 new COVID-19 cases, total tops 1,100

09:04 | 26/02/2020
South Korea's COVID-19 case total jumped well into four figures on Wednesday (Feb 26) as authorities reported 169 new infections, taking the overall tally to 1,146.
south korea reports 169 new covid 19 cases total tops 1100
Workers from the Korea Pest Control Association spray disinfectant as part of preventive measures against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (Photo: AFP/Yonhap)

An 11th person had died of the disease, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) added in a statement on its website – a Mongolian man in his 30s who became the first foreign national to fall victim to the outbreak.

Yonhap news agency reported that he had been in hospital in the South awaiting a liver transplant.

The vast majority – 90 per cent – of the new infections were in Daegu, the country's fourth-largest city and the epicentre of the outbreak, and the neighbouring province of North Gyeongsang.

Between them they account for more than 80 per cent of the national total.

The infections have been linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, an entity often accused of being a cult.

A 61-year-old female member developed a fever on Feb 10, but attended at least four church services in Daegu before being diagnosed.

Shincheonji followers have been advised by authorities to refrain from going outside "as much as possible".

With public criticism growing, Shincheonji's founder Lee Man-hee said the group would provide the government a list of all its members to have them tested for the virus.

The streets of Daegu – which has 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 urged the public to exercise extra caution, advising citizens to stay home if they have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

South Korea's parliament cancelled sessions on Tuesday as it closed for cleaning after confirmation a person with the coronavirus had attended a meeting last week.

Scores of events have been cancelled or postponed as the outbreak has spread in the world's 12th-largest economy, from K-pop concerts to the start of the K-league football season, with casualties on Tuesday including the World Team Table Tennis championships.

"The government will mobilise all resources and means" to try to control the outbreak, Prime Minster Chung Sye-kyun told a meeting in Daegu, where he is leading the government response, Yonhap news agency reported.


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