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(LEAD) S. Korea reports 169 new virus cases, total rises past 1,100

Welfare/Medicine 10:34 February 26, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details; RECASTS headline, lead para)

SEOUL, Feb. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported 169 new cases of the new coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections here to 1,146 from only 51 a week ago.

So far, 11 people have died in South Korea, including a 36-year-old Mongolian national who was hospitalized for a liver transplant, from the new virus that emerged in China.

About 80 percent of confirmed cases came from two clusters of infections -- at a branch of a religious sect in the southeastern city of Daegu and a hospital in the neighboring county of Cheongdo.

Of the 169 new cases, 153 are in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and neighboring North Gyeongsang Province. Daegu counted 134 new cases and North Gyeongsang reported 19 more cases.

A platform of Dongdaegu Station in COVID-19-hit Daegu, 330 kilometers southeast of Seoul, is deserted on Feb. 25, 2020, as people restrain from traveling amid the spread of the new coronavirus. (Yonhap)

Other major provinces and cities have also reported some infections, with Seoul reporting another four cases, the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said in a statement.

Busan, South Korea's second-largest city, reported eight new cases and Gyeonggi Province reported one new case Wednesday morning, the KCDC said.

Since raising the virus alert level to "red," the highest level, on Sunday, health authorities have focused on halting the spread of the virus in Daegu, the epicenter of the virus outbreak here, and North Gyeongsang Province.

Experts said the number of confirmed cases is expected to jump in the coming days as health authorities plan to test more than 210,000 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus at the center of the rapid spread in other provinces.

South Korea confirmed its first new coronavirus case from a Chinese woman from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, on Jan. 20, but the pace of infections had not been alarming until Feb. 18, when a 61-year-old woman who is tied to the Daegu religious sect tested positive for the virus.

South Korea has released 22 fully recovered novel coronavirus patients from hospitals as of Tuesday morning, the KCDC said.

The number of people being checked for the virus and under quarantine came to 16,734, it added. The country has tested a total of 44,981 suspected cases, with 28,237 testing negative.

Quarantine officials disinfect a cabin of a KTX bullet train at Suseo Station in Seoul on Feb. 25, 2020, amid the spread of the new coronavirus in the country. (Yonhap)


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