(ATTN: ADDS details throughout, photo)
SEOUL, March 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported 476 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, bringing the total number of infections here to 4,212, as the nation provides an "all-out response" to the fast-spreading virus that includes a massive testing program.
So far, 22 people, mostly ones with underlying illnesses, have died in South Korea from the respiratory virus that emerged in China.
About 60 percent of confirmed cases have been linked to a branch of Shincheonji religious sect in the southeastern city of Daegu.
Of the 476 new cases, 377 are in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and 68 are in neighboring North Gyeongsang Province, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). The total number of cases in Daegu and North Gyeongsang stood at 3,081 and 624, respectively.
The Monday morning update was based on the number of virus patients tallied at midnight. Previously, a morning update had been based on the number tallied at 9:00 a.m. on the day, but health authorities changed it to help front-line health workers spend more time battling the virus.
The second update, to be posted Monday afternoon, will be based on the number tallied between Sunday midnight and 4:00 p.m. on Monday, officials said.
Other major provinces and cities have also reported some infections, with Seoul's confirmed cases rising by four to 91.
The virus cases in Busan rose by five to 88, and Seoul's neighboring Gyeonggi Province saw its total cases climb by three to 92. The total number of cases in South Chungcheong Province rose by 10 to 78.
Since raising the virus alert level to "red," the highest level, on Feb. 23, health authorities have focused on halting the spread of the virus in Daegu, the epicenter of the virus outbreak here, and North Gyeongsang Province.
On Sunday, President Moon Jae-in said the government "is now waging an all-out response after raising the crisis alert to the highest level."
In Daegu and North Gyeongsang, temporary treatment facilities will be expanded to exclusively handle suspected cases and diagnostic examinations, Moon said.
"I believe that an increasing number of people will join these efforts and that we will succeed in defeating the virus without fail," Moon said.
Experts said the number of confirmed cases is expected to increase 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.
After the first outbreak on Jan. 20 in South Korea, 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.
Since then, the nation has seen an explosion in infections as it accelerated virus tests on potential cases.
South Korea has released 31 fully recovered novel coronavirus patients from hospitals as of midnight Sunday, and one more patient will be cured by later in the day, the KCDC said.
The number of people being checked for the virus and under quarantine came to 33,799, it added. The country has tested a total of 105,379 suspected cases, with 71,580 testing negative.
BTS member Jimin's 'hanbok' suit up for auction
Number of peak concurrent viewers on BTS online event surpasses 2.7 mln: agency
BTS enters Billboard Hot 100 with new Japanese single
Drunk driver gets 8-yr prison term for hitting and killing Taiwanese student
Biden-Moon summit to highlight importance of U.S.-Korea relationship: Psaki
S. Korea considering various 'vaccine swap' options with U.S.
FM: Seoul, Washington 'earnestly discussing' COVID-19 vaccine swap deal
(LEAD) FM: Seoul, Washington 'earnestly discussing' COVID-19 vaccine swap deal
Girl group TWICE to perform on Kelly Clarkson show next week
(4th LD) New virus cases in 500s for 2nd day; Seoul aims to vaccinate 3 mln by end-April