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(2nd LD) S. Korea reports 1 more coronavirus death, total infections top 3,500

All News 15:40 March 01, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; ADDS more info throughout, photo)

SEOUL, March 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported one more novel coronavirus-related death Sunday, bringing the country's death toll to 18, while total infections surpassed 3,500.

The latest victim of COVID-19 virus was an 83-year-old man in the southeastern city of Daegu who also had underlying diseases, including suffering from a stroke and hypertension, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

South Korea reported 376 additional cases of the new coronavirus as of Sunday morning, bringing the total number of infections here to 3,526.

Of the 376 new cases, 333 are in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and 26 were reported in neighboring North Gyeongsang Province, according to the KCDC.

Other major provinces and cities have also reported some infections, with Seoul reporting an additional five cases. South Korea's second-largest city, Busan, added one more case.

Health workers disinfect a court room in Suwon, south of Seoul, on March 1, 2020, as South Korea beefs up its efforts to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Since raising the virus alert level to "red," the highest level, last Sunday, health authorities have been focusing on halting the spread of the virus in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province as they account for more than 87 percent of the country's total virus infections. Daegu alone has 2,569 virus patients in the city, KCDC data showed.

The number of confirmed cases in South Korea is expected to jump in the coming days as health authorities have begun testing more than 210,000 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus at the center of the rapid spread in other provinces.
The members of the minor religious sect took up roughly 60 percent of the country's total virus cases as of Sunday morning.

In particular, the KCDC said about 73 percent of all virus patients in Daegu, the country's fourth-largest city that has a population of 2.5 million, are tied with the Shincheonji church.

The KCDC said it has learned that some of the Shincheonji church members visited Wuhan, China, in January but didn't reveal how many went to the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak.

The Ministry of Justice said Saturday that 42 followers of the Shincheonji church are presumed to have entered the country from Wuhan over the past eight months.

A health worker walks by ambulances in a parking lot in Daegu on March 1, 2020. (Yonhap)

Also on Sunday, health authorities announced that a 45-day-old baby has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, making the baby boy the youngest patient in South Korea. The baby, born on Jan. 15, tested positive for COVID-19 after their parents had contracted the virus, they said.

As of Sunday morning, South Korea is carrying out tests on 32,422 people nationwide, while 61,037 people have tested negative in total.

Health authorities said 14 patients are in critical condition. The number of patients cured of the disease stood at 30.

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

As the number of virus cases soars here, many foreign countries have barred entry of those who have recently visited South Korea.

Earlier, the U.S. State Department raised its travel advisory for Daegu to the highest level, urging Americans not to travel to the virus-hit city. For the rest of South Korea, the U.S. advised its nationals to reconsider travel.

According to Seoul's foreign ministry, 78 countries have so far moved to bar the entry of people traveling from South Korea or to strengthen quarantine steps.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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