SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported 114 new cases of the new coronavirus on Thursday, down from 242 new cases a day earlier, bringing the nation's total infections to 7,869 amid growing concerns over cluster infections.
The 114 new cases, detected on Wednesday, marked the lowest number of daily infections in more than two weeks.
So far, 66 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 61 percent of confirmed cases have been linked to a branch of the Shincheonji religious sect in Daegu, which, with a population of 2.5 million, is the country's fourth-largest city.
The pace of daily new inflections had shown signs of slowing in recent days as health authorities completed extensive testing of 210,000 Shincheonji followers who are at the center of the rapid spread, but authorities are still on high alert over new clusters of infections, including a call center in Seoul's Guro district.
Of the 114 new cases, which were detected on Wednesday, 73 are in Daegu and eight are in North Gyeongsang, the KCDC said. The total number of confirmed cases in Daegu and North Gyeongsang, the two epicenters of the virus outbreak here, stood at 5,867 and 1,143, respectively.
Other major provinces and cities have also reported some infections, with Seoul reporting 19 additional cases.
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.
The World Health Organization declared Wednesday that the global coronavirus crisis is now a pandemic, as the global death toll neared 4,300 and worldwide infections approached 118,000.
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