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(LEAD) S. Korea reports 31 new cases of coronavirus, total now at 82

All News 10:29 February 20, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in last 6 paras; EDITS lead para)

SEOUL, Feb. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported 31 new cases of the new coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the total number of infections here to 82, with most new cases centered on the southeastern city of Daegu.

This week's surge in the number of infected people, increasing the nation's total infections by more than 50, has raised fears that the virus may have been fast spreading locally.

Of the 31 new cases, 30 are in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and neighboring North Gyeongsang Province. The remaining one was reported in Seoul, the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said in a statement.

Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province are home to some 5 million people.

Of the 30 new cases in Daegu, 23 patients are believed to be linked to a 61-year-old South Korean woman who was confirmed to be infected Tuesday, the KCDC said.

The country's 31st virus patient is presumed to have infected about 40 people so far as she attended church services in Daegu before testing positive for the virus.

Most new cases have no clear ties to travel to China, where the virus originated, or Southeast Asian countries, it said.

The country's probable coronavirus 'super spreader' was hospitalized at a Daegu hospital from Feb. 7-17. The KCDC said that the patient has had contact with 166 people, who have now placed themselves into self-quarantine.

The public health authorities said earlier it is still unclear how the 31st patient contracted the virus as she had not made contact with other confirmed patients or been abroad recently.

Police officers wearing masks stand guard at a medical center in Daegu, a city 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Feb. 20, 2020, as people suspected of having been infected with the new coronavirus arrive to receive tests. (Yonhap)


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