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(LEAD) S. Korea reports 518 new virus cases, total now at 6,284

All News 10:48 March 06, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 6-8, last 3 paras)

SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported 518 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, bringing the nation's total number of infections to 6,284, with most new virus infections still occurring in the southeastern city of Daegu, the epicenter of the virus outbreak here, and neighboring North Gyeongsang Province.

So far, 42 people, mostly elderly patients with underlying illnesses, have died in South Korea from the respiratory virus that emerged in China late last year, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

About 60 percent of confirmed cases have been linked to a branch of the Shincheonji religious sect in Daegu, the country's fourth-largest city with a population of 2.5 million.

However, health authorities have shifted their focus to testing ordinary citizens in Daegu, citing an alarming level of community spread in the city.

Members of the Army Second Operational Command sterilize a retail outlet in Daegu, the epicenter of South Korea's coronavirus outbreak, on March 5, 2020, in this photo provided by the command. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Of the 518 new cases, which were detected on Thursday, 367 are in Daegu and 123 in North Gyeongsang, the KCDC said.

The total confirmed cases in Daegu and North Gyeongsang stood at 4,693 and 984, respectively.

Other major provinces and cities have also reported infections, with Seoul seeing two additional cases, bringing its total to 105. Busan's caseload rose by three to 95. New cases were also reported in several provinces, including Daejeon, Gangwon and South Chungcheong.

Gyeonggi Province saw its confirmed cases rise by 10 to 120. Three patients and five medical staff at Bundang Jaesaeng General Hospital, south of Seoul, tested positive for the virus after they came into contact with a 77-year-old cancer patient who was admitted to the hospital last Saturday and tested positive for the virus on Thursday.

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 and North Gyeongsang.

A foreign resident wearing a face mask and a hat with a face shield waits at an immigration office in Seoul on March 6, 2020, to apply for voluntary departure from the country amid concern about the spread of the new coronavirus. (Yonhap)

South Korea had released 108 fully recovered novel coronavirus patients from hospitals as of Thursday, up 20 from a day earlier, the KCDC said.

The number of people being checked for the virus and under quarantine came to 21,832 as of Thursday, up 22 from the day before, it said. The country has tested a total of 158,456 suspected cases, with 136,624 testing negative.

Currently, there is no evidence that the new coronavirus is airborne. The World Health Organization said the virus is transmitted through droplets or close contact. The best measures to protect yourself from the virus are to wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds and avoid mass gatherings, health officials said.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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